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Page last updated at 12:05 GMT, Thursday, 11 March 2010

Cheshire school finds out the truth about South Africa

How about this for an idea? Cancel school for the duration of the World Cup, so children can enjoy the whole spectacle at home. Well it is actually happening in South Africa, which hosts the World Cup in June.

Steve Owen at Matseliso High School
Steve Owen found people in Soweto "very friendly"

School Reporters in Cheshire have been interviewing a teacher to find out the truth about life in South Africa. Culcheth High School in Warrington has had a link with Matseliso High in Soweto for 18 months.

Last week Steve Owen, a geography and history teacher at Culcheth High School, visited Matseliso High School in Soweto where excitement about the World Cup is reaching "hysteria".

Football crazy

On Thursday School Reporters at Culcheth interviewed Mr Owen about what he had learned during his visit and the football featured prominently.

Mr Owen said: "The World Cup final is going to be at the Soccer City stadium, which is not far from Soweto, but sadly few people there can afford tickets. A couple of the teachers said they were hoping to save up for tickets to see a match."

He said the school had decided to close for the duration of the World Cup, partly because of possible traffic problems.

Steve Owen and Sybil Mehlape
Steve with Matseliso teacher Sybil Mehlape

Mr Owen said the visit was a fascinating experience and he added: "I had heard a lot about crime and carjacking but everybody was so friendly and although I was the only white man in a black community I never felt out of place and was met with no hostility at all."

Mr Owen said: "A lot of the children say they see crime on the streets every day but they said things are getting better and a lot of the problems are just petty thieving."

An example of that is that Matseliso students are currently unable to use the 40 new computers at the school because cables have been stolen.

He said he was struck by the hard work and positive attitude of the younger generation and said he was also amazed by how many languages are spoken at Matseliso.

"English is the language that 90% of the lessons are taught in but many of the pupils can speak four or five tribal languages and a couple of teachers could speak 11 languages, including English and Afrikaans," he told the BBC School Report.


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