Form I e4 excursion to Alexandra

According to the World Bank (October 2016), one of South Africa’s key development challenges is the existence of a dual economy, with one of the highest inequality rates in the world. The current Gini coefficient ranges between 0.66 and 0.70, with the top decile of the population accounting for 58% of the country’s income. This is demonstrated by the stark contrast that exists between Africa’s richest mile, the Sandton CBD and the community of Alexandra.

St Mary’s is located about 5km from Alexandra and hence it is a part of our immediate community. The aim of the annual Form I e4 field excursion to Alexandra is to expose pupils to the socio-economic realities within our immediate community and, hopefully, foster a sense of empathy towards residents of Alexandra. Raghuram and Madge (2006) argue that fieldwork brings students into direct contact with the everyday lives and material realities of others, while Fisher (2012, p.15) notes the significance of fieldwork in that it provides “first-hand experience” providing for meaningful learning experiences and the fostering of longer-term understanding. A participatory approach to the fieldwork excursion was followed providing pupils with opportunities for direct contact, connection and interaction with the residents and business owners in Alexandra.

Sally James

Deputy headmistress

Pupils on a walking tour of Alexandra
Pupils interviewing local business owners as part of their investigation into Alexandra’s informal economy

Pupils had the opportunity to try local delicacies: mopani worms, vetkoek and isikop were some of the treats sampled
Form Is chatting to a local AlexFM radio DJ about their experiences in Alexandra live on the air.