Mogae honours- Parick Van Rensburg
The former president, Festus Mogae will officiate at the late Patrick Van Rensburg’s memorial to be held on Saturday June 24, 2017 at 9 AM at Swaneng Hill School in Serowe.
Van Rensburg is remembered by this nations as a pioneer of alternative education systems, cooperatives and the private press. Mogae is expected to use the opportunity to remind the nation of the importance of education as a gateway to success.
In life Van Rensburg was for our country and region a pioneer of alternative education systems, cooperatives and the private press, as well as an early anti-apartheid activist. He was a principal founder of the Brigades Movement in Botswana, and the Foundation for Education with Production, through which he played a key role in the establishment of Swaneng Hill, Shashe and Madiba secondary schools as well as the Serowe Brigades and Mmegi newspaper.
Born in Durban South Africa, Van Rensburg originally served the country of his birth as a civil servant and diplomat. He resigned from his post as South African Vice-Consul in the then Belgian Congo in 1957, in protest against the apartheid policies. He subsequently joined the later banned Liberal Party of South Africa and became closely involved with the campaign to boycott South African goods, which preceded the Anti-Apartheid Movement. Returning to South Africa his passport was confiscated and after the Sharpeville shootings he was forced to flee the country.
After a brief spell in Britain, where he wrote and published Guilty Land, van Rensburg took up residence in Bechuanaland, subsequently becoming a Botswana citizen. For many years he was a resident in Serowe, where he founded Swaneng Hill School, the Swaneng Consumers Cooperative and Serowe Brigades, including Serowe printing works, which launched the Mmegi newspaper.
In 1980 he launched the Foundation for Education with Production (FEP) to promote his educational ideas both domestically and internationally.
Van Rensburg’s education approach was rooted in the concept of schools serving as centres of community mobilisation as well as educational and skills development. The curriculums he helped develop included practical subjects like agriculture, building, carpentry, metalwork, technical drawing and typing. New academic subject matter was also introduced in the form of Development Studies, through which students were encouraged to apply the knowledge and skills they were acquiring in socially useful productive work.
In an effort to bring schools within the reach of ordinary people, costs were lowered by the Brigades, which were self-help education and training organisations producing goods and services both for themselves and for public sale to help finance teaching and training.