CAPE TOWN – Monday, February 9, 2015. Attending school continues to become a better experience for both learners and teachers at some Hout Bay schools, thanks to the continuing investment by the Oceana Group.

An independent impact study by research consultancy, Mthente, has assessed the effect of Oceana’s Corporate Social Investment (CSI) contribution to the Hout Bay area and to the Sentinel Primary School in particular. Mthente conducted face-to-face interviews with the school principal, and held focus group discussions with learners, teachers and parents to quantify the impact which the CSI initiatives have had on their lives.

Oceana Group is the only JSE-listed fishing company and is South Africa’s most empowered listed company. Oceana has operations in Hout Bay and has been consistently working through their CSI vehicle, the Oceana Foundation, to improve the environment at Sentinel Primary School both inside and outside of the classroom. “Our two focus areas, Education and Food Security, are adding value to the education the pupils receive and ensuring food security,” said Oceana Group’s CEO, Francois Kuttel.

The Oceana Foundation has, in the past arranged and funded the painting of the Sentinel Primary School buildings, provided digital Smart Boards, a branded school minibus and regular donations of Lucky Star products.

Today, Sentinel Primary was handed the keys to a fully kitted feeding kitchen and a fully refurbished computer room with 25 new computers and brand new server. All 932 learners from Grade 1 to Grade 7 receive tuition in the computer room at least once a week and the computer room is used in the evenings for teaching computer literacy to adult members of the community.

The goodwill is not limited to Sentinel Primary. Keys to a minibus were handed over by Francois Kuttel to Silikamva High School’s principal, Angus Duffet. “The Foundation’s donation to the schools will certainly increase motivation and improve the learning environment for both the teachers and learners. The total CSI spend by the Oceana Foundation on Hout Bay schools since 2011 is R2.3 million” said Lea Conrad, Director for Group Strategic Services.

A number of officials from the Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and City Of Cape Town attended the event.

According to the Mthente report, parents and teachers say that Oceana has changed the quality of teaching and the learning environment at Sentinel Primary School. “Stakeholders cited a change in the look and the feel of the school, which can be attributed in particular to the refurbishment of the school building,” said Awongiwe Mtimkulu, Mthente researcher and consultant.

“The new look has contributed to a more positive atmosphere among both teachers and learners, as well as changed perceptions within the community. Stakeholders indicate that community members now recognise Sentinel Primary as an institution of learning to be respected and be proud of.” In 2011, 26 break-ins were recorded, 2012 none, 2013 and 2014 one with no break-in record since the beginning of this year symbolising respect for school grounds. The appearance of the newly-painted walls instils pride in the school and was cited by learners as giving increased motivation to perform well in class.

“Donations such as the school minibus have freed up funds for additional needs such as stationery for the teachers; created revenue for the bus driver’s salary, upkeep of the bus and petrol expenses through transporting learners from other schools; provided employment opportunities for two community members and instilled pride in the community as their poor school has its own bus like other rich schools,” said principal Amanda Engelbrecht.

Some stakeholders attribute successes which the school has achieved in the last two years to Oceana’s CSI contribution, such as positive acknowledgement from the Department of Education regarding the school’s progress.

“Oceana is pleased that we have been able to assist in creating an environment where eager learners receive quality education from motivated teachers,” said Francois Kuttel.