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Mayor’s newsletter for George Herald of 3 August 2023

We have recently experienced the culmination of Outeniqua High School’s centenary celebrations. The chief whip, Marlene Barnardt and I along with our spouses were privileged to attend their gala dinner for 400 guests on 28 July 2023 where attendees reflected on the achievements of alumni in later life, the dedication of the teaching staff and the enthusiasm of current learners displaying artistic talents, serving meals to guests and their achievements in sport and academia. We could only marvel at the outstanding organisation of the dinner and indeed of all the events.

The success of Outeniqua can be attributed to the teaching staff ably led by excellent headmasters over decades and the support of the parents, alumni, donors, corporates and the public. Schools and the education system form an integral partnership with municipalities and the community.

In my discussions with some of our leading educators it is evident how inter-dependent the stakeholder relationships are as each partner aspires for a more beneficial environment. Schools fulfil a critically important role in society and the municipality continues to play a facilitating role in engaging the provincial department of education to address the particular challenges being experienced within George to meet the increased demand for quality education.

In celebrating Outeniqua’s birthday, we are reminded how fortunate and blessed we are to have many role-players in George’s civil society who enthusiastically champion and care for important causes. This caring nature helps drive our vibrant society.

The enterprise of the Outeniqua community provides inspiration to those of us serving within the public sector to undertake further collaborative efforts to foster linkages and partnerships that will benefit our broader community. In recent years, Council has approved frameworks whereby various whole of society initiatives can be undertaken. The corporate social responsibility and adopt-a-spot frameworks provide opportunities for assistance in numerous fields.

Within our less fortunate communities, we find that many citizens experiencing extreme poverty. The municipality supports around 120 soup kitchens and over 500 vegetable gardens that are operated by caring citizens within these areas. These efforts could do with support through the provision of additional ingredients for nutritious meals, assisting to ensure sustainable gardens, facilitating sporting and hobby activities among youngsters to keep them busy after school and over weekends, etc.

We are experiencing more homelessness around George. While this is a complex societal issue, a whole of society approach can assist in alleviating this deprivation. Within some areas, the bad habit of illegal dumping of refuse has taken hold. Often, the creation of a garden on these sites helps to encourage habits of pride within communities.
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