This program earned a Gold award.
Christel House international was started in 1996 in the US, aiming to provide quality education to those who would not normally be able to access it. The South African branch – Christel House SA (CHSA) – was opened in 2002 with 292 students (from Grade 1 to 5). The school now has a high school and a primary school, encompassing all grades from Grade R to 12. The focus is on a holistic approach to education, and so the school also focuses on health and wellness, community outreach, and service learning. Each child receives two meals a day, as well as annual dental and medical check-up, hearing and vision screening, immunizations in accordance with WHO recommendations, and social workers provide counseling and group therapy. The school also provides opportunities for involvement in numerous different sports and arts/craft activities, including netball, soccer, knitting, karate, golf, fencing, table tennis, cricket, dance, media, choir, sewing, drama, and gardening. Community and Parent outreach workshops are conducted at the school, on topics including HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, and drug abuse; and also conduct job-skills training. Students are also involved in service learning programmes. Eg. working in a soup kitchen, reading to the elderly, beach clean-ups etc. CHSA also helps students access bursaries and scholarships for higher education. All students attend the school free of charge.
Innovation: The project focuses on providing a holistic approach to education, involving not only the learners, but their families and the broader community too.
Effectiveness: The school received a perfect score and highest possible accreditation from UMALUSI (the agency which accredits independent schools) in 2006; and also won “Most Outstanding School” during KTV Market Day in 2005. Students also regularly score higher than many others from Independent schools. 24 students performed with the CT Opera in 2006; and five students participated in the North Carolina State University math and science programme.
Poverty Impact: More than 200 people have attended workshops at CHSA, and are now employed formally or informally (in pottery, sewing, gardening, and bricklaying). The school also employs more than 40 staff members.
Sustainability: The initial start-up costs were roughly US$2m which was provided by Christel House International; and current yearly operating expenses of about US$2.28m. The company now covers about 30% of the project’s costs, while numerous donors cover the remainder.
Replication: Similar initiatives could be replicated in other areas; however, this would require substantial funding, especially if students attend free of charge, and if the school wished to also provide healthcare, meals, and extra-curricular activities. Single aspects of the programme could be replicated more easily. Eg. educational workshops; putting together sports teams; feeding schemes. However, replicating the project in its entirety would be very expensive, and this would probably put it out of the range of many groups.