‘You’re crazy.’ ‘It can’t be done.’ ‘It’s impossible.’ These were some of the sceptical reactions when the residents of Bonnievale decided to tackle the high school education crisis in this rural area by joining hands across racial and socio-economic divides and setting out to build their own educational facility on a par with the best schools in South Africa.
A little more than two years later, the naysayers have been silenced. On a 12-hectare piece of land now stands the Jakes Gerwel Technical High School – a two-stream technical institution with cutting-edge e-learning and sports facilities. Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schafer has gone as far as calling it ‘the miracle school’.
The JGE Funding Trust was formed as operating partner to govern the school in collaboration with the Western Cape Education Department (WCED). Trustees are Wilhelm de Wet, actuary recruiter at SA3, Curren Kühn, electrical engineer at Motla Consulting, and Philip Jonker, owner and winemaker of Weltevrede Wine Estate. ‘The vision of our community was executed in record time,’ Philip says. ‘2016 was a year of planning and preparation. In June 2017 construction started. Less than six months later, a magnificent school building opened its doors to 240 Grade 8 and 9 learners from the local community.’