Connecting Classrooms

Peter has shared his experiences and has continued his school visits to talk about his experiences of life in Apartheid South Africa. Peter visited Clun Primary to give his talk in attendance were pupils from Maesmarchog Primary and Creunant Primary.

“I was amazed to hear of this programme – Connecting Classrooms – and was delighted that schools in my own constituency were paired with the area where Nelson Mandela grew up. I am delighted to come to Clun Primary and give a talk to these children who have links to the area. It will be great to foster links between Kenya, South Africa and Neath.”

Following his talk Mr Hain was asked questions by pupils from all three schools about life growing up in South Africa and what it was like to be an MP.
“There were some horrible times when I was growing up when the police would come into our family home and search through my things. When we had to leave South Africa when I was 16 it was difficult to say goodbye to my friends – both black and white – but what was amazing was to return and see South Africa as it is today.”
“Today South Africa is by no means perfect and things do need to change but things have already changed for the better from when I was growing up there. School life in Africa is very different to school life here, the classes are much bigger and for some they are unable to attend school.”

Peter was also asked about the letter bomb that he was sent when he was living in Britain.

“It is really important not to take part in racist acts but it is equally important not to just walk on by as if nothing is happening. That is how I and my family felt – we could not just sit there and let Apartheid rule continue.”

Clun Primary, Creunant Primary and Maesmarchog Primary are in a British Council Scheme called Connecting Classrooms. The three Neath schools are linked with three schools in Kisumu, Kenya and another three schools in the Mthata – Eastern Cape, South Africa.

The scheme enables intercultural dialogue and increases the knowledge and understanding of each others society. The scheme also aims to draw in the local community.

Already this year teachers from the three schools have been out to Africa to see what school life was like for their African counterparts.Next year their African colleagues will be visiting Neath Port Talbot and in the third year they will be visiting Mthatha in the Eastern Cape to see the schools there.