There were some excited faces among the Masiphumelele students that attend Fish Hoek Primary on Monday. It was prize giving day for the students that attend “English…Please” – part of the school’s academic support program for students whose first language is not English. The program is a MASICORP initiative that provides specialised English tuition for these children and is led by Milli Firth at Fish Hoek Primary. Milli is a specialist English teacher who gives her time to the program ensuring there is no extra charge for attending.
Most children in Masiphumelele attend the local Ukhanyo primary school where much of the teaching is delivered in a combination of Xhosa and poor quality English. A small number of parents are able to send their children to Fish Hoek Primary a few miles away, which is a fully English medium school. In the long term, their educational prospects are massively improved but on arrival, they often struggle. Some grade 1 pupils have never spoken English and rarely hear the language at home or in their local community. If it was not for programs such as “English…Please” they would quickly get left behind in class and school would become an unpleasant experience for them to endure.
On Monday morning pupils across all grades could be heard chatting nervously in English. A special mention must go to our guide Princess who met us at reception and later gave an impromptu welcome in front of the whole group – delivered in perfect English. Many of the children won awards based on the improvement in their written and spoken English over the last academic year and for two of the older students, the ultimate prize was their acceptance into Fish Hoek High School. We hope that they will become the bursary students of the future.