The Belhar Project
Proud Partners decided to liaise with the Western Cape Department of Education and discovered that ten "focus schools" that qualified for increased funding by the Department, had been identified. One such school in the brown residential area Belhar already has a music centre with state-of-the-art equipment to the value of R2 million. This includes inter alia 15 keyboards linked by means of earphones, so that one teacher can teach 15 children at one time.

The idea is for Belhar to become like other schools in more well-off areas where learners can take music as a subject from Grade 10.

However, the problem is that privileged children receive private music lessons, for which their parents pay, at least from Grade 3 so they can attain the required level to take music as a subject in Grade 10. This is not the case at Belhar, and the learners are introduced to music only when they are in Grade 10 − much too late to establish anything of a permanent nature. And the problem will repeat itself every year with new children who receive music tuition from scratch at too late a stage.

The logical result will be that all these learners will fail music in matric or that the standard of matric music exams will have to be lowered to accommodate these learners. Neither of these outcomes is acceptable. The obvious solution is for children to start music lessons at primary-school level, but unfortunately the education system does not allow for this. And the parents simply cannot afford private lessons.

Following discussions with all parties involved, Proud Partners identified three primary schools in the area as feeder schools of Belhar High School. We donated a keyboard to each of these schools (with the assistance of Yamaha) and requested each school to identify its 15 most talented learners in Grade 5 - a total of 45 learners. Belhar High School agreed to make its facilities available and this group of learners is currently receiving music tuition by a music teacher remunerated by Proud Partners. We intend sponsoring these learners for weekly music lessons for the next five years − until they are on a level to take music as an exam subject in Grade 10.

We have extended the music project by also donating keyboards to 11 other primary schools in disadvantaged areas. These schools, as well as the three feeder schools, have all sent two teachers (including the choirmaster of each school) for weekly music lessons at Belhar High School, for which Proud Partners also pays. In turn, each of the 28 teachers must also identify two learners from their own schools to whom they will give music lessons.

Music is the one gift that keeps on giving!
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