Christel House SA unveils plan to future-proof students at Special Assembly event

Image supplied. Traditional choir entertaining guests.

Media Release: 6 November 2019

Christel House South Africa (CHSA), a non-profit school that serves 750 severely underprivileged students in Cape Town, hosted their year-end Special Assembly event on 5 November. The event, which incorporated a technology tour of the school and high-energy entertainment by its students, saw more than 150 of the school’s donors, student sponsors and partners in attendance. As one of eight Christel House schools internationally, CHSA’s mission is to break the cycle of poverty. The events’ theme was dubbed ‘Future Proof’ and highlighted how the school is providing its students with a fully integrated Information Communications Technology (ICT) learning experience that instills critical thinking abilities and self-directed learning approaches – a vital skillset for the future world of work.

Christel House students engaging with student sponsors and donors from Tessara and Microsoft

Guests also enjoyed a special keynote address by President and CEO of Christel House International (CHI) and former Mayor of Indianapolis, Bart Peterson, who joined Christel House in 2018. In his keynote address, Mr Bart Peterson thanked staff, board members, donors and partners for supporting the school and made an interesting request to students: “There might or might not be cellphones in the future, but if there are, please text me from where you are because I am so excited about your future.” He also made special mention of the school’s founder, Christel DeHaan, former owner of Resorts Condominiums International (RCI), who was unable to attend the event due to health-related reasons.

President and CEO of Christel House International, Mr Bart Peterson; Christel Award winner and Valedictorian for 2019, Nosiviwe M and the Principal of the CHSA High School, Mr Ronald Fortune

Students from 20 impoverished areas in Cape Town attend CHSA in Ottery daily. In addition to quality education, the school also provides health care, daily meals, transportation to and from school, guidance counselling and college and career support in order to provide a holistic education model that see its students escape a life of poverty.

One of the main criteria for admission to the school is that students come from households with an average monthly income of R1 500 or less per household member. With a Gini-Coefficient rating of 0.63, South Africa is the most unequal society in the world (*World Bank). By incorporating the school’s existing model with a renewed focus on ICT and self-directed learning, the school hopes to close the gap on the ever-increasing digital divide that impoverished youth in South Africa face.

Donors from RCI and Capitec with the President and CEO of Christel House International, Mr Bart Peterson and the CEO of Christel House South Africa, Adri Marais

CEO of Christel House South Africa, Adri Marais, presented the new ICT strategy for the school. “Next year will see us introducing a specific focus on technology as a platform for independent self-learning spaces. It is the ability to be self-directed and self-motivated that will help our children achieve their ultimate goal of economic self-sufficiency – and access to technology directly enables that.”

Christel House has already proven their dedication to becoming one of the leading schools in the country with a 100% matric pass rate since inception and 96% of its graduates who are either in tertiary education or gainful employment. As a STEAM-focused (science, technology, economics, art and math) school, one of only a handful of Microsoft Showcase schools in the Western Cape and a renewed focus on ICT, the school now aims to tackle the 4th Industrial Revolution with the support of its donors, partners and community. By January 2020, the school will have a 1:2 device ratio and, donor dependent, a 1:1 device ratio for the Grades 10/11/12’s.  Coding has already been introduced into the school, but 2020 will see the subject being introduced as a compulsory activity into the Junior School and as a voluntary activity for High School, in order to drive self-directed learning amongst the youth. Approximately 80% of CHSA students will also have some exposure to robotics and the school is hoping to at least double the number of teams entered into the 2020 World Robotic Olympiad. CHSA managed to win Provincial Silver and Gold in the competition previously and the school is hungry for a National ranking in 2020.

Junior School Robotics students engaging with guest as part of the tech tour

Christel House is a registered non-profit organisation and a 100% of all donations benefit Christel House’s projects and programs. All South African donors are eligible to receive a tax-deductible 18A certificate and companies can receive B-BBEE points for their contributions as a 100% of Christel House’s beneficiaries are Black. To donate to Christel House, visit https://sa.christelhouse.org/ or contact Megan Sonnenberg: msonnenberg@sa.christelhouse.org