Lions support Arden in South African School Project


Knowle and Dorridge Lion, Barry Dale, little thought as he regularly passed the run down, school on business and social trips to South Africa, that 10 years on he would have helped start an international project between K&D Lions, Arden Academy and Schitsdrift School.
“About 5 years ago, I noticed some building work going on to change it from what could only be described as being totally unfit to be used as a school. It was being rebuilt by local fa rmers and residents with everything donated by them and really basic. They were still desperately short of money to provide the children with the most basic items our schools take for granted. Our Lions club stepped in to help and now we are really excited by this latest phase of the project and thrilled at Arden’s involvement”

Schitsdrift (pronounced Skeetsdrift) is a rural school in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. It provides education and wider community services for children of poor local Zulu families. The children often walk up to twenty kilometres per day to school and back. It was a rundown state school but is now totally voluntary funded under the trustee leadership of the local owner of Spion Kop Lodge hotel, Lynette Heron, who is a retired teacher. It has over two hundred pupils and the buildings have been totally refurbished by benefactors. However, there is still a struggle to provide basics such as books and stationery.mpondarden

Knowle and Dorridge Lions have, over the last three years, provided the school with computers, printers and satellite connections to the internet. This has enabled the children to have access to an information base without spending substantial money. They are now developing skills that allow them to compete with pupils in better funded, more urban schools.

mpondweniThe teachers, whose first language is Zulu, are required to teach in English since this is the universal language of South Africa. This can present difficulties and is one of the reasons the Lions have been working with Arden Academy. Sixth Form Head, David Parman and Deputy Head, Sandra Shuff along with Lions Sue Owen and Barry Dale, have worked together for the last eighteen months to develop a project that would give pupils valuable experience and provide valuable assistance to Schitsdrift. As a result, Arden sixth formers will now be able to visit Schitsdrift to teach English, Maths, IT and other subjects and help develop the children’s English skills, general education as well as help to improve the teachers’ use of English in the classroom. Martin Murphy, Principal of Arden Academy, said “This is a fabulous opportunity for our young people and knowing the calibre of the students who will be visiting Schitsdrift I am sure they will be ambassadors for our school and local community. We hope the impact they make on the lives of the children will be something positive the Schitsdrift children remember forever.”

Eight Arden sixth formers will fly to South Africa in July for four weeks as the first pioneering students on what is hoped will become an annual event. They have been chosen after a rigorous selection procedure by both Arden and the Lions. They are now busy fund raising to finance this experience of a lifetime and have entered the Fun Run as a team! If you would care to donate to this or their other fundraising efforts please contact either or

Sue Owen, Chair of Lions Community Services said, “This is a wonderful opportunity for two very different schools to work together for the benefit of the pupils from both communities. Lions are delighted and look forward to supporting its ongoing success”