Facing learning challenges

Sharleen Haupt, of Life Matters, Landie Diamond, principal at Westlake Primary School, and Anthony Adams, principal at Zwaanswyk Academy Primary School, took part in a panel discussion on "A day in the life of a principal".

Poverty, alcoholism, violence, and trying to learn in a foreign language
are among the problems some south-
ern suburbs primary school pupils face, according to two principals who spoke at a panel discussion in Meadowridge last

The discussion, “A day in the life of a principal”, was held during the annual general meeting of the Life Matters Foundation, which offers literacy and numeracy programmes to primary school pupils in Cape Town.

The principals – one from Westlake, one from Retreat – said socio-economic problems had a knock-on effect on how pupils did
at school.

WestlakePrimarySchoolprincipal Landie Diamond said growing violence in Westlake had led to several break-ins at the school. Pupils’ academic performance had also suffered because of the vio-

She said she had seen a growing number of homes headed by children because the parents were alcoholics and had abdicated their responsibilities.

“The child sits in class and worries about things that they should not worry about. They are unable to concentrate because they are forced to be the head of their homes.” she said.

Language barriers were also a problem, said Ms Diamond.

She said there were 13 languages being spoken by different pupils at her school but the curriculum was taught in English so pupils without it as a first language battled to understand.

Zwaanswyk Academy Primary School principal Anthony Adams echoed what Ms Diamond had to say.

Many of the difficulties pupils faced were the result of their upbringing, he said. Some had very young parents who were still growing up themselves, trying to get jobs and raise children at the same time.

Poverty meant pupils went to school hungry, and hungry children could not focus.

Mr Adams said some parents harbouredunfoundedmisgivings about special-needs schooling to the
detriment of children not cut out for academic schooling.

Parents should not assume all children were the same, and they should be open to letting their child have special-needs schooling if they needed it.

“Arts, music, dance and soft skills also add to life,” he said.

The principals thanked Life Matters for the help it gives schools both academically and through its life-skills programme.