Stonelaw students on an African adventure
Pupils bring friendship to lessons at Mtubatauba
Four Rutherglen school pupils will next week step out of the classroom at Stonelaw High and into lessons at Ikusasalethu High School.
Calum Loftus, 16, Alexander Fulton, 16, Rebecca May, 16, and Meg McAteer, 17, will spend two weeks at the South African high school as part of a global school partnership visit.
Formally established six years ago, the partnership between the schools offers Rutherglen students the chance to learn at Ikusasalethu High School and gives South African teachers the opportunity to teach in a Scottish classroom.
The 2017 team of students are the sixth set of youngsters to embark on a South African adventure.
But the students have been learning about the Mtubatauba region for a few years as members of Stonelaw High School’s fair trade team.
The group sells fair trade items and uses profits to pay for school uniforms for young people attending Ikusasalethu High.
Students at the two schools have also been writing to each other as pen pals for several years.
The trip will be particularly special for Meg as she will finally meet her pen pal, 17-year-old Nelly Matine.
“I’m looking forward to meeting my pen pal,” Meg said, “I have been in contact with her for three years.
“We have grown close over the years, she’s just like me in South Africa. I’m really looking forward to getting to know her more. It will be the first time we will be able to meet and see each other properly.”
Callum added: “It will be good to see how people my age are in South Africa. Although I don’t have a pen pal, it will be good to see the faces behind the letters.”
All of the students are excited to see how their counterparts learn in rural South Africa. They are aware there can be up to 80 students in each class and the internet and technology they have become so accustomed to learning with will not be there.
Rebecca said she wants to learn more about African music and culture, adding: “I study higher music and there is a ukulele in my case.”
Meg and Alexander study higher geography are have explored the effects of Aids on African communities. Their trip to Mtubatauba will allow them to see these effects first hand. The students will be accompanied on their trip by technology and design teacher Saphna Joshi and English teacher Gillian Gillen and retired Stonelaw teacher Isobel Gilchrist.
Mrs Gilchrist, who will be visiting Mtubatauba for the eleventh time, said: “It is a very educational trip. We hope the pupils who go feel empowered, along with the partners they meet, to research, discuss and debate contemporary global issues that are close to their hearts and find out how the culture and history in South Africa and the UK has contributed to that.”
Ruglonians can follow the students’ progress on the trip by logging on to their blog: https://marc2017com.wordpress.com/
Exchange students Calum Loftus, Rebecca May, Meg McAteer and Alexander Fulton fly out on January 20