Levana Primary School

Levana Primary School was established in 1977 and since then Levana and Hillwood primary schools have served the local communities in and around Lavender Hill, including neighbouring informal settlements (townships). The vast majority of pupils (around 1000 in each of the schools) are from very improverished and disadvantaged communities and violence, substance abuse and lack of parental guidance are issues with which the school struggles daily. Both school leaders constantly take action to keep pupils fed and safe. There are no school meals provided, so local parents come in and cook daily, using donated food to feed those children who have no food to bring for themselves to eat at breaktimes.

Local gang conflicts present a constant challenge, with rival gang territories on both sides of the school buildings. indesperation about the gun battles taing place across the school grounds, in 2002 the school had a path built between Levana and Hillwood so gangs involved in a gun battle could run between the schools without using the school grounds. At such times the schools are locked down and no one can enter or leave the schools until the situation is safe.

Nevertheless, both schools are intent on providing the very best education possible as they are aware an education and a job might be the only way out of life in the townships. Flower and vegetable gardens have been developed to complement the curriculum and every attempt is made to expose the learners to sporting, which is often provided by external volunteer groups. The schools have no gyms or sports hall, and few children have sports kit or trainers.

School fees are only R200 (£11) per year but collection is very difficult. We pay fees, and cover the costs of uniforms and shoes for pupils whose families cannot afford to pay themselves. There are several other sponsors and donors who support the schools, but not to the level that provides the kind of education our children in the UK receive.