Campaign calls for help to keep kids wide-eyed

At 10:00 in the morning, little eyes start drooping during classes at Prestwich Primary School.

This is because, by that time, some of the learners are simply “exhausted”, explains school principal Mahdi Samodien. These children have left home as early as 04:30 to ensure they are able to attend their school, which can be up 20km away from their home.

“We are a commuter school and the kids come from 15 to 20km away, some via public transport,” he explains.

This often requires them to leave home early in the morning, and when Samodien arrives at the school at 06:00, there are already learners waiting for him to open the doors. Some of the learners are in the lower grades and are as young as seven years old, he adds.

“It is our experience every day that by 10:00 these children are so exhausted they fall asleep in class,” Samodien explains.

In a bid to improve the academics of these children, Samodien decided on a campaign to raise donations, which would allow the children to be well rested before school.

Green Point resident Claudia Scherer, who is a volunteer for the Shine Literacy Programme at the school, also noticed how tired the children appeared during her sessions with them.

“Our children at Prestwich come from very disadvantaged backgrounds; however, their parents by bringing them into town every single day in the early mornings, are trying very hard to give them a better education than what is usually provided in township schools and better than what they had themselves,” she says.

Working with Samodien, Scherer appealed for donations of mattresses and bedding for the children, which allows them to have an extra hour-and-a-half nap before the start of the school day.

“We’ve had an amazing response,” says Samodien.

The school received donations of 10 mattresses during just two weeks, he adds. However, the school is now in need of bedding: small blankets, pillows and waterproof sheets.

“It’s too soon to tell if the campaign has had an effect on their academics, but the children are excited about it. When they leave for class they are feeling rejuvenated,” says Samodien.

V To donate, contact Prestwich Primary School on 021 434 3952.