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Atlantis: The forgotten industrial mecca

The introduction of some new factories has done little to quell ongoing fears of job losses.

FILE: Unemployed Atlantis residents queue outside the Hisense Factory, hoping to find work. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Some Atlantis residents say job security remains a daily concern.

Plagued by a high unemployment rate, residents of the West Coast town say the introduction of some new factories has done little to quell ongoing fears of job losses.

Last year, Chinese electronic giant Hisense opened a factory that is expected to create over 1,000 jobs over the next five years.

The vast tracts of idle industrial land are all that remain of the Atlantis of the 1970s, once a manufacturing mecca.

Some said the closure of almost a dozen factories has compounded social problems such as alcoholism and crime.

But the gloomy picture is countered by a mood of optimism among residents.

One resident, Marco Penguin, believes there are still plenty of opportunities.

"For such a small place, there's a lot of factories but we can do better as a community."

Community members remain hopeful the promise of more investment will bring with it sustainable growth.

COUNTER STRATEGY: EDUCATION AND SPORTS

A school principal in the area believes that sport and education are the best antidotes to prevent gangsterism amongst the youth.

Reygersdal Primary's Danny Petersen said the school's focus on sport is part of a campaign to combat the social problems prevalent in the community.

The school was recently fitted with a new multi-purpose sports ground to encourage more learners to take up an activity.

The sounds of whistles and war cries echo across parts of Robinvale in Atlantis, as several sports teams take to a field for an afternoon practise.

The school grounds are still a hub of activity, long after the end of the school day.

Principal Danny Petersen believes getting more pupils involved in sports will go a long way to alleviate some of the social ills gripping the town.

"The best thing to do is to keep the kids here after school and get something for them to eat as we get them off the streets. We've amounts of gangsters and we're trying to get them out of that zone

Petersen believes Atlantis will proof to be a breeding ground for future sport stars.

SCHOOL DROP OUTS

At the same time, another Atlantis school principal said education lobby groups in the West Coast town are struggling to keep up with the number of school drop outs.

Russel Andrews of Kerria Primary School in Protea Park says despite after-school programmes and workshops in the community centres, the dropout rate remains a concern.

Principal Russell Andrews said every year several learners leave school before matriculating.

He adds the majority of high school dropouts are also not enrolling at Further Education and Training or FET colleges.

Andrews cites the lack of parental involvement, economic problems, substance abuse and teenage-pregnancy as some of the reasons why pupils leave school prematurely.

However, he remains optimistic that through collective community effort, more can be done to encourage the youth.

These sentiments are echoed by the provincial education department who said the effectiveness of the education campaigns will only be felt if the whole community bands together to address the broader societal issues in the area.