Dignity and Privacy for Learners Using Durban Disadvantaged
School Swimming Pool Following R95 000 Change Room Development by SAMCT

The lack of suitable and appropriate change room facilities at a severely under-resourced primary school in Durban, serving more than 600 learners from Lindelani, KwaMashu and Inanda, is no longer a challenge, thanks to a R95 000 changing facility development project, funded by the South African Muslim Charitable Trust (SAMCT).

Parlock Primary School, established in 1983, is one of very few public schools in the area with a swimming pool, although years of enforced neglect – the consequence of acute financial constraints faced by the educational institution – had seen the elderly facility fall into disrepair and become structurally unsound.

All that changed several years ago with the school’s recognition of the importance of physical activity in an age of severe obesity amongst the youth, coupled with the essential need to ensure that young children become water-safe and are taught basic swimming skills.

Parlock Primary School set about the daunting task of pool refurbishment, bringing it back to being a valuable and functional asset and introducing both water-safe and basic swimming skills programmes for its learners. Still missing, however, were dedicated and separate boys and girls change rooms, until the SAMCT stepped into the breach.

Speaking at a recent function to mark the official hand-over of change room facilities at the school, SAMCT representative, Mr Gaf Osman said: “Adequate and sensitive arrangements for changing, which account for the diverse needs of learners, inclusive of religious beliefs, cultural backgrounds and gender, are absolutely vital and this was something, until recently, Parlock Primary School was unable to guarantee.”

“There can be no question that every learner has the right to dignity and privacy when getting changed. Some children feel vulnerable, leading to anxiety when changing amongst their peers. It is imperative, therefore, that school staff treat all those for whom they are responsible fairly, whilst respecting their privacy and dignity.”

Being concerned for its learners, the school appealed for assistance and the SAMCT heeded the call.

Mr Gaf Osman said the organisation’s intercession: “Last year a fully-functional girls change room was provided and, pleasingly, today we have been able to add an equivalent facility for the boys.”

He added: “Parlock Primary School is quite evidently severely under-resourced – an unfortunate reality affecting so many of KwaZulu-Natal’s public schools. To their credit this school’s highly committed Principal and members of staff work tirelessly to create and maintain an educational and sporting environment conducive to the academic and physical development of its learners, more

than 60% of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds. The school’s elderly infrastructure, including the swimming pool, requires constant attention, made all the more difficult by the severe financial constraints the educational institution faces.”

It was the school’s tenacity and desire to provide a sound academic and physical environment for learners in its care that led to the SAMCT’s double donation for the development of infrastructure to support the swimming pool’s effective usage.

“Great strides have been made here and today the pool serves both this and a neighbouring school’s swimming programmes,” said Mr Gaf Osman.

The SAMCT was created in 2008, the result of a partnership between Old Mutual Unit Trusts and Al Baraka Bank for the creation, marketing and distribution of a suite of Shariah Funds. Such partnership ensures that the SAMCT is the beneficiary of this Shariah suite of funds in order to provide funding, services and other resources for the improvement of the lives of the vulnerable, deprived and disadvantaged.

The organisation has been singularly successful in delivering sizeable assistance solutions throughout South Africa – irrespective of race or religion – and continues to work to support needy organisations in the fields of health, social development, poverty alleviation and education.

Mr Gaf Osman stressed: “I am sure the introduction of designated changing facilities here, at Parlock Primary School, will do much to further encourage the even greater participation of learners in the school’s vital swimming programme, perhaps now opening the door to youngsters who would have liked to participate, but were reluctant to become involved because of concerns about changing.”

He wished the school’s Principal, staff and learners every success with the advancement of its swimming programme and suggested that it might consider extending access to the pool and changing facilities to other schools in the area as a way to promote water safety and basic swimming skills amongst young children to the area’s broader community.

ends

For more information about SAMCT or
its Parlock Primary School donation, please contact:

Rasheeda Motala

Social Responsibility Officer Tel: 084 506 2280
Email: samct@samct.co.za

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