Trinity Children’s Centre started from the simple conviction that God loves children — especially children in vulnerable situations. The founders of TCC were looking for a practical way of walking alongside children on the Cape Flats as they strove to overcome adversity.
After visiting organisations and ministries across the country and interviewing their leaders, it became clear that to make a lasting difference, one’s approach needs to be rooted in the following:
Considering the whole child and not
reducing them to a single need
Taking the time necessary to invest
deeply in individuals
Going beyond meeting needs to developing
their own skills and abilities
We believe teaching and learning is deeply relational. As much as a school needs books and buildings, it is the people who create the learning community. Our staff team is deeply committed to the mission of doing life-changing education with children in adversity, which requires a wide variety of skills. Our teachers and assistant teachers drive the educational programme; the operations team runs the kitchen and various practical logistics; and the management team provides leadership and direction. We are also blessed to have an Interventions Team that supports children and families with play therapy, counselling, training and more.
Trinity Children’s Centre is overseen by a board of trustees which steers fundraising and provides strategic direction and accountability for the organisation, to ensure that we stay true to our mission and use our resources wisely.
Having a vision, but few resources and little experience, the founders decided to start as small as possible: just one little preschool class in the unused garage of a local church. After a successful first year, full of learning for both the children and the team, they added a second class. Generous donors helped to buy and renovate two neighbouring houses to provide offices and a few more classrooms.
The children kept learning and growing and were soon ready for primary school. Out of a desire to keep working with the same children, TCC opened the first Grade 1 class in 2015, while continuing to take new children into the preschool.
By 2017, when the pioneer class reached Grade 3, TCC had completely run out of space to grow. But one of the parents noticed an old community centre go up for sale nearby. After several months of prayer, planning and negotiating, TCC was able to buy the property in partnership with Trinity Church, just in time to clean it up, move in and open Grade 4.
Since then TCC has continued to develop the new campus and grow the team, with the pioneer class reaching Grade 6 in 2020. The final step is for them to complete Grade 7 in 2021 and become the first graduating class of Trinity Children’s Centre.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many children are in TCC?
We currently have 120 learners from Grade RR – Grade 6.
That’s 15 per class and one class per grade. In 2021 we plan to expand to 135 learners when we add Grade 7.
Do the children live at TCC?
No, they live with their parents or guardians and attend TCC during normal school terms. We see education as a partnership between the school, the children and their families.
Do the families pay to attend?
Yes, we charge a small fee – roughly 10% of the actual cost of running the school. This helps us ensure that we are working with families who are committed to their children’s education. We also allow volunteering in lieu of fees for unemployed parents.
Where does the rest of the funding come from?
The majority of our funding comes from individuals and businesses in South Africa, though we also have some donors in the UK, US and Germany. Our Sponsor a child programme provides our core monthly income and ad hoc donations cover most of our capital costs. We receive no government funding.
Are donations tax deductible?
Yes, we are a registered Public Benefit Organisation and can issue Section 18A tax certificates to South African individuals and businesses. US donors can get tax receipts directly from our US partner, Faith & Learning International. UK donors can Gift Aid their donations via our UK partner, ECLISA. See our Donate Page for more information.
What challenges do you face?
Resources. In order to reach Grade 7 in 2021, we have been adding a new grade every year since we started in 2012. This means we are always looking for the next salary and classroom and other resources.
Childhood risk factors – Not every child is exposed to every risk, but in general Mitchell’s Plain is a very hard place to be a child. Factors include high rates of physical and sexual violence, lack of resources and choices, limited access to basic services and opportunities and an inherited inequality in levels of health, income and education.
Where do you get learners?
There is enormous demand and we have had a waiting list since the week we started back in 2012. Families can apply at the school during the annual application window. The majority of our learners live within walking distance of the school, though a handful live further away.
Where do you get your staff/teachers from? Are they qualified?
Many are local to the Cape Flats, and some are parents of children in the school. Others commute from further afield because of their heart for Cape Flats children. Our class teachers are all qualified, but we also have a number of assistant teachers who are studying part-time while working at TCC.
Do you have other branches, either locally or overseas?
We belong to several networks and share learning with other organisations, but we do not have any other branches. That’s because our vision is to make a deep, sustained investment in the children we have so that they can go on to be tomorrow’s heroes. We think of ourselves as sidekicks – our job isn’t to save the world, it’s to enable the children to become the heroes they are meant to be.
What do you mean by ‘Christian school’?
Motivation: God’s love for children and for working through people that others forget is what motivated us to start TCC.
Integrity & transparency: We recognise that everyone has beliefs and values and that South Africa has a rich history of honouring diversity. We think that living with integrity in a diverse society does not mean not having values or not acting consistently with them, but rather means being clear and transparent about one’s values and how they are lived out, while being respectful to others.
Curriculum: The majority of our curriculum is composed of widely-accepted academic knowledge (such as reading, writing and arithmetic), taught from a Christian perspective. Our curriculum also includes some distinct Christian teaching, such as theology and Christian ethics, which is not graded or included in learners’ academic records.
Open enrolment: Our admissions policy does not discriminate on the basis of creed – learners of any faith are welcomed and are not required to become Christians to enter or remain at the school. However, learners are expected to abide by our code of conduct and other policies, which are rooted in a Christian frame of values.