By NTU News reporter
When one of her pupils coloured in a ten Euro note his father had given him into a ten Rand note to buy something from the tuckshop, teacher Robyn Bam was inspired to teach her class about world currencies.
One Euro is worth about 19 Rand, so the 10 Euro note was worth almost R200, twenty times the value of R10.
“It was at this moment that I realised that many learners in our country have no knowledge of foreign currency and the value that it holds. Thus, I knew an educational opportunity had presented itself,” Bam said.
The aim of the currency file is to broaden the learner’s knowledge about the world outside of South Africa. “The reality is that we live in a third world country where many learners will never travel out of their hometowns, let alone overseas. If we, as teachers, don’t do everything we can to assist in developing them to think critically in every aspect of life, then are we even teaching?”
The Grade 6 teacher posted on Facebook asking for donations of notes and coins from countries around the world so that she could make a currency book as a resource.
The response was overwhelming and she is still receiving contributions to the project.
The currency file has been a hit with the students and it’s a resource for the whole school that other teachers are keen to share with their classes. “The learners were in genuine awe, and judging by the reactions on their faces, it was evident that majority of them had never seen currency other than the Rand. After just turning a few pages in the file their hands started to shoot up with millions of questions,” Bam said.
Born in Queenstown, Bam attended Gonubie Primary School and Hudson Park High School and completed teacher training at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. She now teachers grades 4 to 7 at Voorpos Primary School in East London. She said she is was very grateful to be a part of a school culture that embraces all opportunities and ideas with a positive mind-set.
The currency file isn’t the only extra mile project that Bam has on the go. She looks for ways to uplift the community and the communities that the children come from. Two years ago she started an art room to identify learners who had great artistic abilities. Every Friday they went to the Belgravia Art School to further the skills they had learnt.
Bam is always searching for fundraising ideas and last year her cousin, DHL Stormers player Joshua Stander, donated a rugby jersey signed by the entire Stormers team to be raffled. The funds raised were to go towards a sports tour but due to Covid-19 that had to be postponed.
The coronavirus has affected the lives of learners, according to Bam.
“The learners are currently going through ‘The Great Unknown’, no one has definite answers for them. Life changed overnight. Visiting friends and family, playing outside with friends and any social activities were stripped from them. Children, as social beings, will definitely suffer mentally due to this,” she said.
It’s also affecting their schoolwork and Bam said that many learners who do not have access to technology are suffering academically. But she adds that smaller classroom sizes under covid-19 regulations mean teachers have more time for one on one with students which is a positive. “As with any situation, there have been pros and cons of the pandemic and lockdown, but we move forward and we find ways to turn the negatives into positives.”
Meanwhile the currency file will continue to grow and captivate learners. Bam wants it to help create in children an inquisitive attitude towards the outside world where they are excited to find out more about the countries.
“If I am able to inspire just one learner to work hard and travel to see these countries and currencies, then I have succeeded.”