Oprah Winfrey provided part funding for a secondary school- Vele Secondary School- in Limpopo province in South Africa. The school holds promise to revolutionise the way schools are designed in the Continent.
The school’s design is being celebrated in both green and educational circles, and it recently won the Afrisam SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture, an honour it shared with another rural South African school, Lebone II College in North West.
Samuel Makhado, principal of Vele Secondary School, said before the building operations began the big problem was the overcrowding. It was also so cold in the morning that the learners had difficulty concentrating on their studies.
The building, he said, was now designed in such a sway that on hot days the classrooms were cool and on cold days they were warm. The learners were able to concentrate better, he said, and the improvement in the pass rate is proof of this. They are also keen to come to school every day because of they are proud of the school and feel as if they are part of it so truancy numbers have decreased significantly.
The building includes a rainwater-harvesting installation, solar energy and green roofs planted with indigenous plants from the region. The permaculture food and medicinal garden, situated in the heart of the school, provides sufficient vegetables and fruit for the school’s needs. The medicinal garden serves as a source of medicinal plants for the community.
Derek van Heerden from East Coast Architects who were responsible for the project was delighted that the school has been recognised in this way.
“It is fitting that schools display the new realities in the time in which we are living. This is the generation that will have to repair our mistakes.”