local community benefits from joint initiatives
Anonymous donor funds, local commitment from business and a focus on community investment has seen the Lillydale community - situated adjacent to Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve - celebrating this spring. At the hub of the community-based education and investment drive is the Lillydale Environmental Centre, home to adult education, life skills training and teacher training programmes.
In the past two months, the Centre has built two new classrooms, installed additional computers and had a much-needed photocopier donated. An anonymous donor put up R50 000 towards the new classrooms, with Sabi Sabi contributing the balance. Community members were employed in various disciplines such as brick making, construction and electricity supply to construct the classrooms.
According to Patrick Shorten, managing director of Sabi Sabi, the new classrooms were a very welcome addition to the Centre, providing additional space and facilities for ongoing educational programmes. "An example of this", explains Shorten, "is the Matric Enrichment Programme currently underway at Lillydale, that caters for around 70 learners. Previously, learners had to share classrooms with other groups, using bookshelves to demarcate seperate study groups."
One of Lillydale Education Centre's most notable achievements is completing four 'Readucate' literacy courses since its inception in 2000. In July this year, the fourth course was conducted, training 15 new teachers, and bringing the total number of trained Readucate teachers to 55. These teachers now have the skills and support to extend their learning throughout the community and increase literacy levels amongst adults and children.
"Our partnership with the local communities extends beyond the Centre and initiatives," continues Shorten. "The majority of our staff is recruited locally, labour and materials for ongoing construction and maintenance is procured locally and we run several conservation training programmes aimed at local participation and involvement."
Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve