EC church leaders send letter of encouragement to schools

Nelson Mandela Bay church leaders have sent a letter to all schools in the region, encouraging principals, teachers and learners to persevere through the current educational crisis.

In the letter signed by representitives of a broad spectrum of churches, the Christian leaders invited schools to share their needs with churches which would provide support where possible. The letter urges principals to lead by example and to take a strong stand against theft of resources and time. Teachers are encouraged to be models of hard work and punnctuality and to display a cheerful, loving attitude towards learners. Learners are asked to be self-disciplined and supportive of each other.

Church-education co-operation has been in the news recently as solutions are sought to address the problems in education following the debacle last year when the education system came to a standstill for a while. Uitenhage District Office of Education head, Mrs N Bashman, recently suggested 15 practical ways in which churches could support schools. Several Port Elizabeth churches have already initiated significant partnership projects with schools. St Stephen’s Anglican Church in New Brighton has adopted Cowan High School, and Victory Ministries International has launched school-focused initiatives addressing crime, drug abuse and social issues in communities.

The full text of the church leaders’ letter of encouragement to schools reads: “Dear School Principal, Teachers, Learners and Staff.

“During 2010 our education sector came to a horrifying standstill for a while. As church leaders in the Eastern Cape we sought to understand the struggles of all stakeholders and to help by creating opportunities for teachers to voice frustrations while ensuring that children were cared for in schools.

“Students, teachers and parents deserve praise where students’ results improved despite the crisis in education in 2010. But we believe the crisis is not yet over. The year began with setbacks, such as the change in student transport grants and the absence of temporary staff. As educators you face a difficult but vitally important challenge on behalf of our children, our communities and our nation.

“To school principals, we encourage you to keep on striving to lead your schools well no matter what difficulties you face. Your example will inspire your staff and students more than any words. May you succeed in managing your staff courageously, affirming them where they do well and confronting them constructively where they fail to carry out their duties. Your determination to protect our children’s right to education by refusing to tolerate the theft of resources or time can be a legacy to our country.

“To teachers, we thank you for working with South Africa’s most precious treasure. We salute teachers who give of their best despite the daily struggle to teach without adequate resources, to face children who are disobedient or distracted because of hunger or abuse, and to deal with parents who are disinterested. You may be the only person who can help many of our children. Your example of punctuality will teach them to be on time, your hard work will teach them to work hard, and your cheerful, loving attitude will bring out the best in your learners.

“To learners, we urge you not to lose hope. By paying attention, working hard, and doing more than is asked of you, you are preparing for success in life. You have the power to make a positive difference by disciplining yourself so that your teachers can spend all of their time teaching you. You can achieve much by helping others who are weaker than you, and by asking for help from those who are stronger. Outside of school you can protect your future by being careful about who you choose as friends, where you spend your time, and what you let into your mind and your body.

“As leaders of some of the churches in the Eastern Cape, we will pray for you this year, that God would help us all to give our children the best. We invite you to share your needs with us, and assure you that we are committed to help you where we can.

“God bless you.”

The letter was signed by Pastor Braam Botha;  Bishop Michael Coleman;  Pastor Jimmy Crompton;  Pastor Zolile Dayimani;   Pastor Patrick Douglas-Henry;  Pastor Neville Goldman;  Pastor Mvusi Gwam;  Bishop Lunga ka Siboto;  Bishop Musi Losaba;  Bishop Richard Magxwalisa;  Archdeacon Themba Mahuwa;  Reverend Danie Mouton;  Bishop Bethlehem Nopece;  Pastor Dave Pedersen;  Pastor John Scholtz;  Reverend Mike Taylor;  Archdeacon Zweli Tom;  Bishop Nkosinathi Vika;  Pastor Russell Viljoen;  and Reverend Gerhard Human

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