BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 June 2006, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
School Day: South Africa pupils interact

Pupils from Phefeni Secondary School in Soweto and Hesketh Fletcher CofE High School in Wigan, UK

Almost 30 years have passed since the Soweto uprising on 16 June 1976, that defining day in South Africa's history when thousands of black students rebelled against apartheid.

To commemorate the anniversary, pupils at Phefeni Secondary School in Soweto, South Africa and Hesketh Fletcher CofE High School in Wigan, UK shared the school day via a LIVE laptop link-up.

The BBC News website's South Africa reporter, Justin Pearce charted the interaction between the students from the school in Soweto, and put some of your questions to the pupils.

Read below to see how the day unfolded.

Justin Pearce 1707 local time (1507 GMT/1607 BST)

We are packing up for the day. The Education Minister, Naledi Pandor, just came to visit Phefeni Secondary School and the pupils were delighted to meet her.

Thanks for all your questions and comments. Sorry we haven't been able to reply individually to everything, but I hope the responses that have been published have given a good idea of the questions that people around the world have, and the feelings of the pupils here in Soweto. They have described the day as fantastic and challenging and say it was great communicating with people overseas.

Please remember to go to or World Class if you're interested in participating in a twinning programme between schools in South Africa and other countries.

Question from Ellen, 11, UK to Phefeni, Soweto (1504 GMT/1604 BST)

I think that it is terrible that people are treated differently because of their skin colour. But now more and more black people are getting employed and more children are go to school and having an education. Black or white, we are all people with the same rights so we should be able to play sports in the same teams, travel in the same busses and eat in the same places.

Nelly, Phefeni: Apparently the apartheid system has changed from the past - now we are able to live together and share a lot of things. Some of the people go to multi-racial schools where there are white and black people mixed.

Question from Joe, London to Phefeni, Soweto (1503 GMT/1603 BST)

Q: Do you work very hard? Is your teacher very nice? Does your teacher give you lots of homework?

Nelly, Phefeni: It's winter now, we have the sun at times but it's very cold at night. Yes, we work very hard to get better results. Teacher? Sometimes - if they like you. Not really such a lot of homework.

Question from Daniel, Hemel Hempstead to Phefeni, Soweto (1500 GMT/1600 BST)

Q: What would you do if you didn't go to school?

Nelly, Phefeni: You would stay at home because there is nothing really to do without education. And you're not even going to get a job, because you're not educated.

Question from Jimmy, St Albans to Phefeni, Soweto (1459 GMT/1559 BST)

Q: What age do you start work?

Nelly, Phefeni: When you're 20-something. It just differs depending on the course you do.

Question from Matt, St Albans to Phefeni, Soweto (1458 GMT/1558 BST)

Q: In which direction does water flow down a drain in South Africa?

Nelly and Khuntha, Phefeni: It flows clockwise here in the southern hemisphere - the opposite to how it does North of the equator.

Question from Luka, London to Phefeni, Soweto (1456 GMT/1556 BST)

Q: We do a school play every year and this year we're doing Oliver Twist. Do you have plays?

Nelly and Khuntha, Phefeni: Yes we have drama in the school but it's not a main focus. On June 16 we're going to perform a drama based on the events of 16 June 1976 - the protests against apartheid. It's a good one, I wish you could see it.

Question from Renat, London to Phefeni, Soweto (1448 GMT/1548 BST)

Q: In our school we are studying about Soweto. What kind of teachers do you have at your school? How many children do you have at your school. At your school do you have any boys?

Nelly and Khuntha, Phefeni: We are about 500 pupils, both boys and girls mixed. Some of the teachers are good. We have different teachers to teach different subjects, both male and female.

Question from Huw, Cwmbran, Wales to Phefeni, Soweto (1427 GMT/1527 BST)

Q: How did the white people treat your parents? How much better are you treated now? Who do you look up to in South Africa? Nelson Mandela is very popular and well known here in the UK.

Khosi and Richmond, Phefeni: Our parents were oppressed by the whites - they were not given equal rights but we are treated equally. We also look up to Nelson Mandela - also Tokyo Sexwale, and the late Ellen Khuzwayo - we lived in the same street where she lived.

Question from Shocklach Primary School to Phefeni, Soweto (1344 GMT/1444 BST)

We are seven- to 11-years-old. There are 23 children in our class. We play rounders, netball, cricket and tag rugby. If you do, what sports do you play? In England it can get down to minus 5C. What is the lowest temperature you have experienced? We go on trips to museums and galleries. Do you go on any trips? One of our favourite lessons is science. What is your favourite lesson?

Khosi and Nonkululeko, Phefeni: We play volleyball and others play soccer. When it's 13C we think that it's cold. We have the Hector Peterson and Mandela Museums around the corner but we don't go on trips there. Last year we went to Protea hotels for a concert. We were watching modelling. Our favourite lesson is accounting.

Question from Jordon, Watford to Phefeni, Soweto (1337 GMT/1437 BST)

Q: What's your life ambition? Who do you admire the most?

Khosi, Phefeni: I just want to be an auditor and earn lots of money. I don't want to go with the Oprah thing because everyone admires Oprah.

Nonkululeko, Phefeni: I want to be a lawyer. Someone I admire the most is my mum. In my spare time I like to play soccer.

Question from Michael Tobin, Highland Park, US to Phefeni, Soweto (1320 GMT/1420 BST)

Q: I'm a social studies teacher in the same city that Michael Jordan lives. Highland Park is 33kms North of downtown Chicago on Lake Michigan. The US receives one million new legal immigrants each year. 25% of the 300m people living in the US were not born here. 40% of the US's adults read below functionally literate (reading at 6 grade level.) Is the same problem happening in the UK and South Africa?

Nonhlanhla, Phefeni: We do have a problem with adults who cannot read because when they were young they did not have a great chance of education.

Sphe, Phefeni: But we seem to have solved that problem because we have adult education colleges.

Bonga, Phefeni: We have a problem with immigrants - they sell drugs.

Sphe, Phefeni: They are really a problem in our country.

Bonga, Phefeni: If police come across an immigrant they actually send them back to where they come from.

Nonhlanhla, Phefeni: These immigrants over-populate the country and cause the people who are residents of the country to lose out on job opportunities. People from outside the country forge identity documents. There are children of immigrants in our school. One of them is my friend. Her family is having their identity documents processed and so she will be a full resident of the country soon.

Question from Carole Copeland Thomas, Boston, Massachusetts, US to Phefeni, Soweto (1312 GMT/1412 BST)

Q: The interactive format of this special feature makes this a truly engaging form of learning about different cultures and customs. As an African American businesswoman, I am interested in learning what the Soweto students would like to learn from my culture here in the United States.

Bonga, Phefeni: The black Americans, I would like to know what culture they are following?

Nonhlanhla, Phefeni: Since you are black, would you be able to follow South African cultures. Things like if you are married, you have to wear headgear and you have to wear a skirt, not pants.

Bonga, Phefeni: Do you have relatives in Africa?

Nonhlanhla, Phefeni: And if so, what part of Africa are they in?

Question from Nonhlanhla at Phefeni, Soweto to Hesketh Fletcher, Wigan (1305 GMT/1405 BST)

Q: What kind of transport do you use when you go to school? I use a train but as we started writing exams I use a taxi because it's a bit faster. When you use the train you can be late. The taxis we have here are 17 seater minibuses and anyone who is anyone can use it. It takes you wherever you want to go. The return trip is 16 rand (R16 is about 1.60).

Also, how many holidays do you have in a year? What things do you do during your spare time? I do a lot of drawing most of it is graffiti. I don't know if you know that. I know it's not a girl's thing but I think it's interesting to do something different from what most of the girls do. Are you following the World Cup and do you think England stands a chance of winning?

Jacob, Hesketh Fletcher: I use a car to travel to school. We have around four to ten holidays a year. In my spare time I play on my computer and go swimming. I'm sure England will thrash all the other countries playing in the World Cup.

Question from Paul Suckling, Douglas to Phefeni, Soweto (1302 GMT/1402 BST)

Q: Is your school free or do your parents have to pay fees?

Zanele, Phefeni: We do have to pay school fees. It is R100 per year (10). But if you cannot afford that, the government pays for you.

Question from Bruce, Madrid to Phefeni, Soweto (1250 GMT/1350 BST)

Q: How much has the history syllabus changed since 1994. I finished my school education in South Africa in the late 80s and as a white the only history I was ever taught was heavily tainted with the brush of nationalist propaganda and bias. Also, how is it determined what language a school teaches in?

Musa and Nonhlanhla, Phefeni: History has changed. We learn about South African history - we go to museums and we use sources such as memory boxes. They specify an event like June 16 - you collect pictures and put them in a box and use them to explain to other people who don't know what happened. You can also look in the box and remind yourself. We have learnt about June 16 obviously, and Shaka Zulu and the great stone of Zimbabwe. And how South Africa became a republic. We learnt there were a great many students who died in the struggle fighting for us. History doesn't only focus on the past, it also looks at the present and the future. A great future depends on the past.

Question from a teacher in Swindon, UK to Phefeni, Soweto (1237 GMT/1337 BST)

Q: I am a teacher at a school in Swindon. Yesterday our year 10 students produced a fantastic assembly about the commemoration of the Soweto uprisings. They have been studying problems that might face the Rainbow Nation in the 21st Century. What problems there are in education today and how are these problems being solved? What impact does a lack of education have upon society in Soweto today?

Nonkululeko, Phefeni: The problems we have are to do with equipment - not enough computers and a shortage of teachers. Classes are very cold and we don't have enough teachers.

Question from Iain Richardson, Manchester to Phefeni, Soweto (1223 GMT/1323 BST)

Q: The biggest thing South Africa has to do is integrate and this is still not happening. Some would say it has swung from one side to the other side of spectrum. The Soweto uprising was important in history but everybody still needs to look back at history. All people in South Africa should be judged as a person, not a colour whether their skin is black, white, coloured or blue! Take affirmative action.

Musa, Phefeni: Iain, thanks for pointing out South African history. Every year on 16 June, looking back really makes us look back at what really happened. Even though we still learn about other countries' histories - please can you tell us what changes Manchester has gone through in the past that may be similar to what happened here on 16 June?

Nonhlanhla, Phefeni: When people mention history of South Africa, it's an opportunity to learn more. Every year we learn more about what we learnt the previous year. Since we're linking with other people through this link-up, it's giving us the opportunity to think more about what happened. Life is becoming more integrated - we can go to the same schools, same malls, same coffee shops - we also have white friends.

Musa, Phefeni: We are also allowed to get married to other different races which we never had before.

Justin Pearce 1400 local time (1200 GMT/1300 BST)

Hundreds of people are curious to find out more about Phefeni High School. To avoid repetition, this is just to answer some of the questions that many different people are asking: Phefeni High School has 500 pupils, from grade 10 to grade 12. At the end of grade 12 they take the matric exam, which is the final high school exam in South Africa.

Pupils wear uniforms: blue shirts and navy jerseys, with a blue tie. Dark blue trousers for boys and skirts for girls, with black shoes.

School hours are 0750 to 1430. Sports and games include soccer, volleyball, netball and chess, and "Mukhukhu" ("hide-and-seek"). Pupils get to school by a variety of means - walking, train or minibus taxis. Some have to leave home as early as 0600 to get to school on time.

Question from Heidi Barnes, Perth to Phefeni, Soweto (1145 GMT/1245 BST)

Q: Do you feel that in South Africa nowadays, there is a multi-racial culture? Or does it still feel segregated?

Khunta, Phefeni: We are multi-racial and we are able to live with one another and understand each other. As a new generation we don't care about what happened in the past.

Musa, Phefeni: You can't say you don't care what happened in the past cause the past has taught us many things and made us realise that we should learn to forgive and learn about other cultures. So what is your culture? However, I think some other people do feel segregated because it's difficult to forgive.

Questions from Mbongeni at Phefeni to pupils at Hesketh Fletcher (1131 GMT/1231 BST)

Q: What kind of sports (male) do you have at your school and are you happy with the facilities at the school? (PS: The 2010 World Cup is heading to South Africa. If you are keen to come to South Africa and watch the soccer spectacular, you are welcome to come and crash at my place.)

Aidan, Hesketh Fletcher: We have loads of sports - cricket, soccer, rounders and athletics. It's great. What kind of sports do you have? Either male or female sports.

Mbongeni, Phefeni: We have volleyball. Unfortunately we don't have a football ground. We also have cricket equipment, because South Africans love cricket and soccer. Personally I love chess... but the chess pieces have been lost because they were stolen and the chess board was broken.

Jacob, Hesketh Fletcher: I am sorry to hear about the chess board and pieces. I hope you are one of the best players of cricket and soccer.

Mbongeni, Phefeni: To be honest I'm good at cricket although soccer is my first love.

Nonhlanhla, Phefeni: Since I watched Brazil last night, I think that they are the ones who are going to take the World Cup. They play really well. (PS: If you plan to come to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, you can crash at my place and I will have a chance to show you around Soweto.)

Jacob, Hesketh Fletcher: I think Brazil have a chance of winning the cup but I am backing England all the way. Thank you both for offering me a place to crash.

Question from Wesley, Newport to Phefeni, Soweto (1117 GMT/1217 BST)

Q: Hi! I was just wondering how do millions of Africans survive with very little food? And what kind of foods do you eat?

Zanele and Nonkululeko, Phefeni: We survive for sure. Our staple diet is pap and meat. On Sundays we have a full meal with rice and chicken and salads. Pap is porridge made from mealies (maize). If you want to cook it you boil water then add a bit of salt then you pour the mealiemeal then you stir it until it's stiff.

Question from Gerald McMenemy, UK to Phefeni, Soweto (1114 GMT/1214 BST)

Q: Do you think you are treated fairly, in terms of university access or is it too expensive for ordinary South Africans? How much do you think it will cost you to get through university?

Khosi, Phefeni: For me it's going to be expensive because I'm in a local school. It's going to cost a whole lot of money. If I get the money I will go to university. My mother might be able to pay for college but not university.

Zanele, Phefeni: I would like to go to university if only my parents can afford it. I would like to be a chartered accountant.

Questions from Norbury First School, Harrow to Phefeni, Soweto (1101 GMT/1201 BST)

Q: We enjoy playing games like "stuck-in-the-mud" and "it". Have you got any good indoor or outdoor games to play? What language do you speak? What do you enjoy doing most after school?

Khosi and Zanele, Phefeni: "Hide-and-seek" but we call it "Mukhukhu". "iBhathi" - that's piling up tin cans and throwing a tennis ball at them. We speak a whole lot of languages - South Africa has 11 official languages. I probably speak probably seven of them - Zulu, Sotho, Venda, Shangaan, Xhosa, Tswana and English. After school I just go home.

Question from Batty Matty, Capel St Mary to Phefeni, Soweto (1057 GMT/1157 BST)

Q: Do you have a lot of free time or is your school almost all day? Does your school work take priority because we think our free time is more important! What are the main sports in South Africa? In England it is football and rugby! Who do you think is going to win the World Cup?

Khosi, Phefeni: Not so much free time. First break is 15 minutes and the other 40 minutes. Yes, school work takes priority! Main sports are soccer and netball. World Cup? France!

Exchange between Longdendale Community Language College, UK and Phefeni (1041 GMT/1141 BST)

Q: Do you care about global warming?

Zanele, Phefeni: I don't know what that is.

Sphe, Phefeni: We don't do geography, but I do care because it affects our climate.

Q: What kind of music do you listen to?

Sphe: Only R&B for me, and classical.

Zanele: R&B and Kwaito, gospel, hip-hop.

Q: What are your teachers like?

Zanele: Strict, the principal is so annoying. Otherwise the teachers are great.

Sphe: The principal is the only one who is troubling the school. He is very strict.

Q: Are you watching the world cup? Which team are you supporting?

Sphe: Yes. I'm supporting Brazil.

Zanele: No I'm not. I hate soccer.

Q: How many pupils are at the school? There are around 950 pupils at Longdendale.

Zanele and Sphe: About 500.

Q: How old is your school?

Zanele, Sphe and Bonga: It was founded in 1979.

Question from Rhiannon, Katie, Emma, Hannah and Ruth from Oban High, UK to Phefeni, Soweto (1039 GMT/1139 BST)

Q: Do you feel safe in the streets of Soweto or is crime a big problem in your area?

Sphe, Phefeni: It is a big problem in South Africa. Yet we don't have any solution. We would like to get some advice on how to solve it. I don't know if you could help.

Nonhlanhla, Phefeni: I feel safe, because it is where I grew up and to me it doesn't feel like violence. People who didn't grow up here might see it differently, for the fact that their lifestyle might differ from mine.

Exchange between Dingle Primary School, Haslington, UK and Phefeni pupils in Soweto, South Africa (1029 GMT/1129 BST)

Q: Do you have hot dinners at school?

Zanele, Sphe and Bonga, Phefeni: No. We can buy fruit from vendors at the school.

Q: What temperature is it at school today?

Zanele, Sphe and Bonga, Phefeni: Maximum 19C.

Q: Do you have a school garden?

Zanele, Sphe and Bonga, Phefeni: No.

Q: How many pupils are there in your school?

Zanele, Sphe and Bonga, Phefeni: 500.

Q: Do you have two separate playgrounds for older and younger children?

Zanele, Sphe and Bonga, Phefeni: No, we play on the same ground.

Q: Do you have many computers in your school?

Zanele, Sphe and Bonga, Phefeni: Only a few.

Q: What type of art do you do?

Zanele, Sphe and Bonga, Phefeni: We don't do art.

Q: What lessons do you have at school?

Zanele, Sphe and Bonga, Phefeni: Accounting, economics, business economics, maths, English, science, biology, geography, history, vernacular languages like Zulu, Sotho and Tswana. We can also study home economics, travel and tourism.

Q: How many grades are at your school?

Zanele, Sphe and Bonga, Phefeni: Three - grades 10, 11 and 12.

Q: What are your beliefs or faiths?

Zanele, Sphe and Bonga, Phefeni: We believe in God and our ancestors. Some go to the Roman Catholic Church or the Zionist Church, or even the International Pentecostal Holiness Church.

Mr Baloyi, Phefeni's English teacher 1218 local time (1018 GMT/1118 BST)

A great thanks to BBC and people of the world for sharing wonderful ideas with us. I have been personally moved by most of the comments. My dream and wish is that we get a school in England that we can twin with, have educators and learners doing an exchange programme. I would also love to see people like Nelson Mandela and Oprah Winfrey to come and see the appalling condition of our school. Thanks to the world.

Question from James, Colchester to Phefeni, Soweto (1010 GMT/1110 BST)

Q: Are you excited that you are hosting the next World Cup in 2010? If so, what players are you looking forward to seeing in South Africa?

Sphe, Phefeni: Of course I am excited. Players that I would like to see playing in the 2010 World Cup are the youngsters from the Mvela Golden League - that's the junior league in South Africa.

Bonga, Phefeni: I'm also excited. The players I'd like to see in 2010 are Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o.

Justin Pearce 1200 local time (1000 GMT/1100 BST)

We're getting overwhelmed with questions from people all over the world which is great. Please bear with us as we only have two laptops to respond to them all. If we don't manage to respond to your question personally, we hope you will still get an idea of the pupils' responses through their answers to other similar questions that other people may have asked.

Question from Mark Noy, Colchester to Phefeni, Soweto (0954 GMT/1054 BST)

Q: I would like to ask you how many lessons do you have each day and out of those lessons which is your favourite?

Sphe, 17, Phefeni: We have seven lessons a day. Out of those lessons we love maths the most.

Bonga, 18, Phefeni: I like accounting the most.

Question from Terry Bugg, Colchester to Phefeni, Soweto (0946 GMT/1046 BST)

Q: Are there any special events in the year that are celebrated where you live?

Bonga and Sphe, Phefeni: Yes, events like Youth Day (16 June), Heritage Day(24 September), Human Rights Day (21 March). On the 16 of June 1976 the youth fought for their rights. And on 24 September the inhabitants of South Africa celebrate their cultures because we have various cultures in South Africa. On 21 March we celebrate our rights after we got freedom in 1994.

Mark, Hesketh Fletcher (0943 GMT/1043 BST)

We are really enjoying the link-up too! It's a great chance to find out about other countries and your lifestyle compared to ours! Also we're missing lessons as well. The heat here is quite annoying at times. We've had some of the hottest days of the year so far and it's really odd that we have had this much sun but we're enjoying it as much as we can!

Question from Paige, Morden to Phefeni, Soweto (0933 GMT/1033 BST)

Q: Hi! I was just wondering if you can answer a few questions about your country. First do you wear school uniform? Secondly, where do you get your water from? (Not being rude.) Last of all, do you have any computers in Africa?

Bonga and Sphe, Phefeni: Yes we have computers and we do wear school uniforms. We don't actually have purified water in South Africa, so we buy it from Lesotho. But we still get it out from a tap. However our government is starting to privatise water and it's going be tough for our hard-working parents to afford.

Question from Musa at Phefeni, Soweto to Hesketh Fletcher, Wigan (0925 GMT/1025 BST)

Q: What is the traditional British food?

Michael, Hesketh Fletcher: Hey! This is a new person - the girls you were talking to before have gone. Our most traditional food is probably a Sunday roast which we have on a Sunday! It's roast chicken with roast potatoes and other vegetables and most likely gravy! What are popular dishes that you have other there?

Musa, Phefeni: Your food sounds interesting and delicious too. Our normal meal is "malamogodu" with pap and steam bread with beans. "Malamogodu" are the intestines of a cow or a goat.

Question from Karl, 15, UK to Phefeni, Soweto (0840 GMT/0940 BST)

Q: I didn't see any coloured kids when I saw your school on TV, but I was wondering if you know anything about coloured culture, and what you think of the label of "coloured". My mother immigrated here during the apartheid era - she was very young and my grandmother is now very old. What is your culture like? Also, what religions are most common? Thanks!

Nonhlanhla, Phefeni: Our school is based in Soweto, which is a predominantly black area (because of the apartheid era group areas act), but there is a predominantly coloured area just outside Soweto. All the students in our school are black. We don't really know much about coloured culture but we feel that it is more associated with white culture in South Africa.

Question from Siobhan, Sutton to Phefeni, Soweto (0834 GMT/0934 BST)

Q: How does it feel to constantly live in a hot climate?

Musa and Nonhlanhla, Phefeni: It's actually freezing. It's winter now - it starts getting dark at around 1730 local time and the temperatures go down to around 0C. But the days are still sunny, and around 20C.

Question from Barry Rohland, Grantham to Phefeni, Soweto (0827 GMT/0927 BST)

I personally think you are supporting the reversed apartheid. The schools you should be visiting are Germiston High, Primrose High, Dawnview High for example. This will give a more realistic view of life in South Africa for children.

Musa, Phefeni: Most June 16 events happened in Soweto, and it builds me to be what I am today. It made me appreciate my country for what it is. All schools in South Africa are equal.

Nonhlanhla, Phefeni: I don't think we are supporting reverse apartheid - by doing this we are trying to show people the background of how we got here. And the fact that the schools in South Africa now have black and white pupils is because of the fight for freedom.

Question from Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr, New York to Phefeni, Soweto (0821 GMT/0921 BST)

I began secondary school, in Ghana in 1976 and so the Soweto uprising remains fresh in my mind, almost as if it were yesterday. For the first time, 30 years ago, my mortality and acute vulnerability were poignantly brought home to me. It also did not help matters when Mr Rawlings launched his bloody "revolution" three years later in Ghana.

Q: Do any of you students feel any better in the war-wracked and nuclearised world today?

Abele, Phefeni: I think people must realise this is a new world where countries need to work together and have peace between countries because innocent people are always losing their lives. The war in Iraq was just ridiculous.

Question from Tim, Tonbridge to Phefeni, Soweto (0817 GMT/0917 BST)

Q: With a bit of luck, none of the people involved will have had any direct experience of those unpleasant days so what's the point? Isn't South Africa supposed to be looking forward instead of backwards?

Musa, Phefeni: I think that without June 16, we wouldn't have our freedom and we need to look backwards to remember the people who helped us get here. It is because of the people who fought for our freedom that we are here. We should move forward, but not forget how we got here.

Question from Kedibone, Johannesburg to Phefeni, Soweto (0812 GMT/0912 BST)

Q: As a former student at Phefeni, it is good to see my old school taking part in this programme. I was 11 years old, in standard four, when at 0930 local time we saw a large group of students storming into our class, requesting us to join them in the march to Orlando High. We had no clue what the march was for but joined in. Some went home, but we continued and later three young boys, including Hector, were shot.

Abele, Phefeni: Since then do you see a change in South African youth of today? Do you think June 16 should be celebrated the way it is celebrated now? If not, how would you like June 16 to be celebrated?

Nonhlanhla Mthembu, 18, Phefeni Secondary School (0810 GMT/0910 BST)

We are enjoying this very much. It's a great opportunity to be able to speak to students from another country, especially one so far away. We've had the chance to spend more time on computers - something we don't usually do. It's also great to be bunking class to do this - it is a big break for us!

Question from Evan, Maerdy to Phefeni, Soweto (0807 GMT/0907 BST)

Q: What is the Afrikaans word for hello? Do you do experiments in science the same as we do? Are you twinned with another school?

Phefeni pupils: The Afrikaans word for hello is "goeie dag". Neither of us do science - we do commercial subjects. But the school does have a lab, and the science students do experiments.

Justin Pearce 1000 local time (0800 GMT/0900 BST)

It was great to get a mass of questions from Wigan early in the day, about uniforms, subjects, languages, food, football. Those have dropped off a bit since the Wigan pupils went into assembly but we look forward to more from them later.

Questions are starting to come in from the rest of the world. I'm sitting with Abele who just answered a question from someone here in SA who remembers June 1976, and a Ghanaian living in New York who asked how today's students feel about living in a nuclearised and war-ridden world.

Abele, Nonhlanhla and Musa are still excited about being connected. Some people asked why we remember the past. Musa says that it's because of the past that we're here today. Nonhlanhla says schools in SA are now equal because of the fight for freedom.

Question from Jodie at Hesketh Fletcher, Wigan to Abele at Phefeni, Soweto (0800 GMT/0900 BST)

Q: Is there any food you like to eat and what is it?

Abele, Phefeni: I like salads and fruit. I also eat pap - a finely ground maize which is cooked with water and salt. It is the staple food here. We eat it mostly for dinner - and usually with boerewors [sausage] or meat and a nice tomato and onion gravy.

Question from Jodie at Hesketh Fletcher, Wigan to Phefeni, Soweto (0756 GMT/0856 BST)

Q: Who's your best pop star?

Abele, Phefeni: Mariah Carey is my favourite - I really enjoy her music - it is very relaxing.

Exchange between Ms Mather at Hesketh Fletcher and Phefeni, Soweto (0746 GMT/0846 BST)

Ms Mather, Hesketh Fletcher: We are all really excited about our new link with your school today and hope that this will be the start of a really strong link with you as a school. I teach drama and media studies. Do you do these subjects?

Nonhlanhla, Phefeni: No we don't do these subjects. I do the commercial subjects - accounting, business economics, economics, IsiZulu, English, maths. If you're at high school you do commercial subjects, science subjects and general studies. The others you only do when you go to tertiary - university.

Abele, Phefeni: I would like to do the subjects that you are teaching - it's just that I got into commerce and the commercial subjects.

Ms Mather, Hesketh Fletcher: Today our pupils are really excited about talking to you and working with the BBC as they are Media Studies students and they are interviewing all the people here who are working with us to bring us online to you. What do you want to do for a career?

Abele, Phefeni: I want to be a chartered accountant or work in financial management.

Musa, Phefeni: I want to be an interior designer. I love colours and shapes.

Ms Mather, Hesketh Fletcher: It sounds like you are working towards your goals. Do you go to university to qualify for these careers? Interior design is very big over here as people are always doing up their houses rather than moving. Where do you live? Who do you live with? We'll speak to you later as we're going to have breakfast and then into assembly. Bye for now.

Musa, Phefeni: I live in Pimviile - a very big and bright part of Soweto. Where I live is very quiet. I live with my mom and dad, and my baby brother. His name is Bobo and he is 11 years old we get on some of the time, but sometimes he gets on my nerves.

Abele, Phefeni: To become a chartered accountant we have to go to university for four years. I live in Suurbekom - just outside Soweto (it takes me 45m to get to school by train). I live with my two brothers (one is 21 years old, the other four-years-old). I lost my mother last year and so am now staying with my stepfather.

Question from Jodie at Hesketh Fletcher, Wigan to Abele at Phefeni, Soweto (0727 GMT/0827 BST)

Q: What is your routine at school?

Abele, Phefeni: I get to school at seven in the morning. On a Monday and Friday we have assembly and then go to class. We move from class to class during periods. On Wednesdays we have sports - I sing in the school choir during that time. I don't do any sports at school but when I am at home, I skate.

Question from Nonhlanhla at Phefeni, Soweto to Hesketh Fletcher, Wigan (0716 GMT/0816 BST)

Q: Do you also wear uniforms when you go to school because we do? I hope you have seen our uniforms. In our school we have just started exams and I was wondering if you have started with yours.

Jacob: Yes I have seen your uniform and I like it very much. We did our exams not long ago. I struggled a bit doing the exams but when I got going I think I did OK.

Question from Aidan at Hesketh Fletcher, Wigan to Phefeni, Soweto (0706 GMT/0806 BST)

Q: How long does it take you to travel to school?

Musa, Phefeni: It takes me around 15m to get to school in a bus.

Abele, Phefeni: It takes me about 45m to get to school. I take a train and then I walk from the station (about 10m).

Question from Nonhlanhla at Phefeni, Soweto to Hesketh Fletcher, Wigan (0701 GMT/0801 BST)

Q: I was wondering how many languages you have over there and which one is your dominant language? Which ones do you study in school? Here in South Africa we have eleven official languages and my dominant language is Zulu. I was also wondering if you can send me a picture of yourselves.

Megan, Hesketh Fletcher: Over here we all speak English. But in school we are taught German and French. I like German the best as I can speak German.

Nonhlanhla Mthembu, 18, Phefeni Secondary School 0835 local time (0635 GMT/0735 BST)

It is very great, interesting and exciting - we don't usually get to do this - it's our first time to link up with schools overseas. It's an enormous challenge.

Justin Pearce 0834 local time (0634 GMT/0734 BST)

Pupils are very excited about the link up. Otherwise it is quiet because it is exam time. The first exam sitting started at 0800 local time.

Pupils from Phefeni Secondary School in Soweto and Hesketh Fletcher CofE High School in Wigan, UK

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific