Fairmount High School, off Klip Road, is embarking on a journey which management hopes will transform not only those at the school, but the community it serves.
Principal Terrence Klassen says it has become extremely difficult for the school to merely rely on the scant returns they get in school fees and the two levied fundraisers they conduct each year.
“Unemployment in the area is conservatively pegged at 63% according to councillor William Akim. We still charge fees (R1800 per annum) and we have two levied fundraisers where we are then trying to get money from this poor community where our return rate on school fees is 17%. Our children come from feeder schools which are no-fee-paying schools, so there is no culture of payment from the parents’ side for school fees. When they come to high school, we struggle to get our money,” Klassen says.
He adds the fact that the school is classified as a quintile five school further hampers their efforts as a collective.
“Being in quintile five, the funding we receive is different. They assume we are getting our fees and have enough money to pay for extra governing body posts. Being in this area, our major problem is burglaries. We have burglaries here every weekend and on a continuous basis. We applied for other fencing to be installed. We were told that the water situation is taking priority, which we can understand, but it is extremely important that we work together. We are looking more towards business to assist us in making sure that we can make that difference.”
Through engagement with Business Network International, Fairmount High has made contact with businesspeople such as Malcolm Lips and Sharon Constable, who have banded together with their partners to strategise a way forward, not just for Fairmount High, but for the feeder schools which service the area.
Lips was drawn to Fairmount, citing the pride and passion Fairmount has for its marching band. Lips’ passion for providing a catalyst for change in the lives of others, coupled with the seeming lack of support being given to the school, compelled him to reach out.
“There are 1000 children at this school and politicians have a duty of care. They are not exercising that duty at this school. Not only is there this school, but the feeder schools to this school. It’s no good sorting this school out; we need to sort the feeder schools out as well. We need money, because we need to improve the children’s lives. The politicians are letting these children down and I will make them accountable,” says Lips, adding that he is open to working with government.