An education system designed to prevent intellectual development has left schools in South African townships and rural areas poorly resourced and with sub-standard infrastructure. Believing that a safe, bright and resourced environment is conducive to positive childhood development, the folks at the Bright Kid Foundation have come up with a cost-effective alternative to failing schools.
The organisation’s innovative Edutainer is a shipment container fitted with lighting and flooring and sports a colourful paintjob. It is a cheap and easily procured classroom and an ideal space for children to learn and grow to meet their potential.
“In 1999 the Mandela Children’s Fund distributed 1 000 of our toys to teachers throughout South Africa. We included a feedback form. One teacher wrote: ‘We love the toys but I’m teaching in a shack. Please send us a school!'” says Nicholas Jaff, media representative for the Bright Kid Foundation. “This request inspired us to develop the Edutainer pre-school classroom which can be sent anywhere in South Africa.”
Because the Edutainer is made by converting standard shipment containers the cost of production is relatively low; it is also easy to transport to rural areas, where proper classrooms are most needed.
“I am very happy with the Edutainer as it provides me with a professional classroom to teach from and earn a salary for myself and my teachers from the school fees,” says Meriam Petla, a facilitator at Tswelopele Day Care Centre in the Free State province.
The Edutainer features safety equipment such as fire extinguishers and burglar-proof windows, and basic such as doors, and an extractor fan and insulation to keep the container warm in winter and cool in summer. It can accommodate up to 25 children and comes stocked with books, toys and educational materials.
The Bright Kid Foundation has supplied more than 200 Edutainers and “skilltainers” to communities across the country; its latest delivery, an early childhood development centre, is to Kromdraai in Muldersdrift, Western Gauteng.
The skilltainers provide space for development and training projects. The organisation also provides “booktainers” to communities needing libraries. These provide space for residents to read, and come stocked with books and educational materials.
SAFE AND SOUND
The organisation converts decommissioned shipment containers, using only those in good condition, needing very few repairs and which are still structurally sound.
“All our Edutainers … are MANTAG certified, ” says Jaff. A MANTAG certification is awarded to construction and conversion projects that meet stringent standards as laid out in the Agrément Innovative Construction Assessments, affiliated with the Department of Public Works. The assessment investigates and certifies the quality of insulation, ventilation, fire safety precautions, acoustic specifications and heat extraction, among other conversion requirements.
The Bright Kid Foundation Edutainer is the only South African container conversion with an official MANTAG certificate.
The foundation also works with the Department of Education, several sector education and training authority (Seta) organisations, and service providers on skills development and enterprise development projects.
The partnerships involve the Foundation delivering skilltainers to communities, and the department, Setas and service providers are responsible for using them correctly.
“We believe that the work we do will have a major impact in improving the quality of life for those who are taught and trained in our skilltainer, Edutainers and booktainers,” says Jaff. “We are very happy to be able to improve the quality of people’s lives and to help improve the prospects for growth and success of South Africa.”
PLAY YOUR PART
The Bright Kid Foundation needs funding to continue to convert and supply containers.
Corporate donors can improve BBBEE scorecards and opt to display company logos on sponsored containers.