Saldanha Bay
schools programmes

"The SBIDZ Schools’ Development Programme is one of four components in a larger Saldanha Bay Community Engagement initiative."

The Saldanha Bay IDZ (SBIDZ) has, over the years, declared its purpose as the “catalysation of new human and economic possibility” at Saldanha Bay. In the activation of that intent, the company has consistently viewed the long-lasting success of the Saldanha Bay economic rejuvenation project. Alongside its building infrastructure, recruiting suitable clients, and establishing novel and pioneering rules of business engagement will simultaneously demand careful and detailed attention to the initiatives directed at the region’s significantly impoverished, working-class communities.

Schools provide social cohesion, coherence, and organisation in society, in addition to their education imperative. In this modern age, they are still one of the remaining critically important nodes of connection between people and households, for today and the future possibilities of the many children who cross their thresholds daily – virtual or otherwise.  For the SBIDZ, we see schools as the perfect opportunity to encourage and support the leaders of tomorrow. Leaders who will become active participants in the life of a re-imagined and prosperous Saldanha Bay, nurturing and sustaining its development and transformation. 

The SBIDZ Schools’ Development Programme is one of four components in a larger Saldanha Bay Community Engagement initiative. The Programme seeks, over a 20 year period, to work with the young people in nine public schools of Saldanha Bay in a sustained, coordinated and intentional way. Preparing them for full participation in the various aspects of life in a thriving Saldanha Bay town and region.

The Saldanha Bay High Schools’ Development Initiative is a five-point program consisting of two curricular programs (mathematics and science) and three extra-curricular programs (music, visual arts and film making). In its first iteration, the program aims to support the Grade 8 and 9 pupils of Saldanha Bay and their teachers by addressing the current education limitations within the mathematics curriculum. 

Supporting this initiative is a “teach the teacher” programme which started in 2020 that offered eighteen Saldanha Bay Grade 8 & 9 mathematics teachers a free, digitally based, jointly accredited University of Stellenbosch and Wits University Professional Development Course. This programme will equip our educators with a combination of “strong pedagogical knowledge, digital skills, technical skills and leadership skills”. The target is teachers “aspiring to be technology savvy”, hoping that they will inspire their pupils to greater heights and better equip them to face the future.

There is a need to find enough funding promptly for the programme to survive. The SBIDZ will fund part of the project and is yet to find external partners to support the rest. The schools in Saldanha Bay are deeply underdeveloped. The schools have unreliable Internet connections, and the teachers cannot access learning materials and resources as they do not have computers. As a result of COVID-19, the programme had to go virtual, and the lack of accessibility of technology was elevated. The teachers had to be provided with data bundles to be able to access the course content. The communities of Saldanha Bay have no trust as they have been left behind many times on other developments in the area. Similarly, the teachers do not see themselves as vital, dynamic and empowered agents and leaders of social, economic and educational change at Saldanha Bay.

Despite the programmes challenges and the associated limitations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the course was successfully delivered and received. Each of the teacher participants encouragingly reported that they had derived significant value from the contents of the academic programme, and each has since expressed support for the SBIDZ’s determination to deepen and consolidate the work begun in 2020. The SBIDZ, Saldanha Bay Innovation Campus, and the Western Cape Education Department strive to obtain the relevant partnerships to support the holistic programme needs.

Insights from the experience of all involved in this pioneering practice in Saldanha Bay show us the way forward for a scalable, sustainable approach specific to the Teachers Programme:

  • Schools require fast, reliable dedicated internet to the classrooms to employ teaching methodologies that require dynamic software.
  • Self-learning on content-enabled mobile devices is necessary to reinforce concepts learnt in class and stimulate independent, critical thinking.
  • Beyond exposure to a lecture environment, teachers require support to reinforce their self-learning and confidence with the teaching methodologies.

Despite the difficulties the communities of Saldanha Bay face, the schools have endured, and these schools are important to us. In a community that has witnessed the systematic disintegration of a great many organs of social reproduction over a sustained period (sports clubs, religious organisations, girls’ and boys’ scouting groups, and so on), the Saldanha Bay schools continue to operate; however perfectly or imperfectly, daily. In truth, they are – to all intents and purposes – the last remaining vestiges of some form of social coherence, cohesion, organisation and reproduction in the area. Consequently, schools are critically essential nodes of community access, engagement and penetration.

The mechanism that the SBIDZ has chosen to engage and reach them is the Saldanha Bay High Schools’ Development Initiative. And we will not fail!


  1. For more information on the Saldanha Bay IDZ –
  2. For details of the course and course leaders –
  3. For more information on the Wits Link Centre –


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