I finished my time at Royal Drakensberg Primary School (RDPS) in 2009 at the end of grade three with one other boy in my grade, a good friend, Sanele Ngwenya. Royal Drakensberg started with us in 2007, in our grade 1 year. At that time the school only went up to grade three with only sixteen students in total, it wasn’t worth making a senior primary for just two naughty boys. Our parents decided the best thing to do with us was send us off to boarding school in the midlands at Clifton Nottingham Road to do grade four to seven.

As you can imagine it was a bit of a shock to the system being away from home for so long never mind the fact that there was now 48 more kids in your grade to deal with but actually we thrived and it turns out RDP had prepared us perfectly for big school. Once we got used to the 20 other kids in our class, it was a blast. The young and small school really did put us in good stead, with Sanele constantly finishing near the top of the class and although academics wasn’t my strongest point, Zulu was a breeze due to my good base of being one of the only English speaking pupils at RDPS. Most of the kids came from the local community without any English and from very poor beginnings – this school and the teachers really gave each of us a special amount of attention to ensure that we were reaching our full potential and more.

Returning to Royal Drakensberg each year has really touched me to see how far it is coming, with the number of pupils now being in the eighties, another three buildings for class rooms and more staff accommodation etc. Out of the teachers that were there during my time, one remains – Idah Khumalo – and even my most awesome current Zulu teacher’s skill doesn’t compare to Idah’s incredible teaching skills.

Having said that the school has come a long way, there is still a long way to go, with a need for a more developed sports programme and facilities as well as funding for a lot of the pupils who can’t afford the full fees. The school always tries to give financial assistance to as many promising students as possible but it can only go so far with what it’s got. Raising money for the event really makes an impact and will allow more young children to experience the schooling that I was so blessed to have.

Torin Mecklenborg

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