Caring school celebrates 100th birthday

Observatory Girls Primary School will be hosting a birthday party at the school on June 22 to celebrate its 100th birthday.

The school is located on the edge of Yeoville and Observatory.

The school opened its doors on March 4, 1918, with 118 pupils and five teachers.

The school started as a mixed school and in January 1938 it changed to a girls’ only school resulting in 244 boys being transferred to Yeoville Primary School.

In 1963 the school started enrolling immigrant learners as the area had residents from Kenya, Rhodesia, Britain, Portugal and Italy.

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Even today the school still has learners who are refugees from various parts of Africa.

In 1992 the school became a Model C school, which was amongst the first to open its doors to learners of all races during apartheid in South Africa.

The school has had ten principals and the one who served the longest was GM Cheshire who was principal from 1932 to 1950.

The current principal is Mrs Makodi Tjeane.

Today the school still caters for a number of refugee children and is one of the most diverse schools.

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“Our motto is Quality in Diversity and we pride ourselves in that. Even though our school has learners from different parts of Africa, we find common ground and grow together,” said Tjeane.

She said she is excited about the celebration because it will give the school exposure.

“We are hidden and not many people know about us. Those who know about the school have children in the school or they have heard about us from some of our sponsors,” said Tjeane.

She said the school is special as it’s a “home” and a safe haven for its learners.

“We have learners who come from war-torn countries and they come to the school with that burden. As educators we find ways to give them hope again and allow them to be children again and enjoy school like other children their age,” said Tjeane.

She said that when she joined the school in 2011, she was surprised by the size of the school because she came from a big school.

“When I got here I had to adjust to the size of the school and because it is a girls-only school. Things are different from a mixed school. During assembly, I refer to learners as ‘ladies’. I am a ‘boy mom’ but I also become a mother to our learners,” shared Tjeane.

She said the environment in the school is amazing due to the good relationship learners have with their educators.

“We are not only about learning and teaching. We also focus on the well-being of the learners. We encourage them to communicate and share if something is bothering them in the school or even at home,” said Tjeane.

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She said most of the learners have socio-economic issues that need to be addressed and as a school, they are always looking for ways to assist.

“We are a paying school but not all of our learners can afford school fees. As a school, we adjust and look at how we can balance things with those who are able to pay school fees. Every child has a right to education,” said Tjeane.

She said she is thankful and proud of the type of staff she has.

“My teachers are dedicated and committed. In this line of work especially, you need a good heart,” said Tjeane.

The school is also one of the hosts of the Three2Six, a project that provides access to education for children who have not been accepted into mainstream schools in central Johannesburg.

  AUTHOR
Busi Vilakazi

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