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LIFESTYLE

A visit to Westridge High School with MySchool


Most people in SA have heard of a MySchool card. We swipe them, we merrily donate funds to various charities by swiping them and then we get on with our lives. But have you ever wondered what actually happens with the funds?

Whilst some people have elected charities, or even their children’s schools for the funds to be donated to, most people have no clue what happens to the money collected, or don’t know that they have a choice to designate the money earned by their swipes to particular funds. One such fund is the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet Thuso Fund, which was specially created to support under-resourced schools across South Africa. Through various special projects, the Thuso Fund aims to really make a difference to well-deserving schools.

Last week I got to go behind-the-scenes to see just how big a difference these funds can make, when used to impact the lives of school children, most of whom are often overlooked and yet make up such a large percentage of the current youth in South Africa. I visited West Ridge High School in Durban, a school with a specialised vocational skills curriculum, currently offering more than 700 children with learning challenges, a chance to enhance their future employment opportunities. Classes cover a range of skills from panel beating and construction, to brick-making and mechanics. Surprisingly, it’s currently the only school in Durban offering this curriculum to high school children with special education needs and they rely heavily on the generosity of donors, as they are only partially funded by the Department of Education.

I was amazed at the simplicity of what is being offered at the school – simple from the perspective that it makes so much more sense to teach a child a skill that can assist them with earning a living in a country so severely starved of a skilled workforce, than shoving them in an over-crowded, under-resourced classroom, to learn a myriad subjects that won’t get them far in our economy.

Children at West Ridge High School predominately come from severely under-resourced families who cannot afford school fees, so it’s predominantly through sponsorship that the school is able to maintain its facilities. In 2014, the Thuso Fund sponsored R240 000 to equip a computer library with 36 new computers. Then in 2016, a donation of over R360 000 enabled an upgrade to their brick-making workshop, which was previously a leaky shed, that was anything but conducive to learning.
This is the building we got to see and were able to chat to some of the kids who are taking brick-making classes.

“This extension and renovation of the workshop is going to make a big difference in the lives of our learners and educators. Skills training, such as brick-making, is an essential part of our offering, as we need to meet the needs of many learners who may be unable to master literacy and numeracy at the levels that would enable them to be otherwise employed.”
– Dr Seetal, Principal at West Ridge High School.


It was humbling get a small glimpse into just how appreciative the kids are to be able to learn these skills, to see the awe on their faces at being told that this group of people was visiting to see what they were up to at school and most of all, to realise that as a privileged minority, we have no real idea of what the everyday reality is for school children in South Africa. It is our responsibility to do what we can, wherever we can.

I urge you to sign up for a MySchool card if don’t have one and if you do, consider supporting the Thuso Fund for Schools and Charities:

  • Sign up free for the MySchool MyVillage My Planet programme at myschool.co.za
  • Select Thuso as 1 of your 3 possible beneficiaries
  • Swipe your card each time you shop at Woolworths, Waltons, Engen Foodstops, or Flight Centre
  • With every swipe these retail partners make a donation on your behalf to your selected beneficiaries, at no cost to you

For more info on MySchool MyVillage My Planet:
Website | Facebook

This is a sponsored post in accordance with the terms & conditions associated with all work written and shared by Nicola Ashe.

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