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Johannesburg - Its sole Grade 12 pupil failed matric last year. And as schools opened this week, the independent school in Joburg’s CBD had no pupils on the first day, throwing it into further disarray.
However, this hasn’t stopped desperate parents from registering their children at the school.
Wavelength High School on Fox Street was listed as one of the seven schools in South Africa to have a zero matric pass rate.
When the Saturday Star visited the institution, which is situated in a high-rise building in the city centre, a receptionist claimed she knew nothing much about the school since she had just been employed there.
She said the school was open for the new school year, but that no pupils had arrived for the first day.
She said the principal was in Mpumalanga “attending to business”, and that she didn’t have his cellphone number.
The school enrols pupils from grades 8 to 12 and is part of the Wavelength Technology Training Institute Group.
It is not clear when it was established.
Gauteng Department of Education spokesman Charles Phahlane said the school was registered and operational.
However, Wavelength High is listed on the department’s website as registered, but “not yet opened and under construction”.
When asked whether it was acceptable for the school to register just one pupil for the matric exams, Phahlane replied: “This school is a statistical outlier, and it would be unusual for an ordinary public school to enter one learner for matric examinations.
“But independent schools do have smaller learner numbers compared to public ordinary schools.”
He said that, since the school was an “outlier” no valid conclusions could be drawn on the results of one pupil.
“We are investigating the past performance of the school, as well as the number of learners registered for matric.”
At another school in the province, Mphontsheng Secondary School, residents have called for intervention because of its poor pass rate – only 81 of its 167 Grade 12 pupils passed matric.
The results are certainly a far cry from the 69 percent pass rate the Ekurhuleni school managed in 2009.
On the first day of school a handful of teachers was milling around and chatting, while some pupils in uniform arrived as late as 11am.
Palesa and Manase Petlo, the owners of a tuck shop across the road from the school, cited poor management skills and a lack of discipline as factors leading to the school’s bad reputation.
“It starts from the top. There is a bad culture of late-coming by pupils. This needs to be dealt with,” Palesa said.
“There is no way these children will learn anything from just picking up rubbish as a form of punishment.”
Her husband reiterated that the school needed a serious management “makeover”.
Resident Charlotte Nonyane agreed the school needed urgent intervention, because pupils were always late.
But two of Mphontsheng’s top pupils came to the school’s defence.
Orton Hlauli, who obtained four distinctions last year, said there was a lack of dedication and discipline among many pupils.
According to Hlauli, the biggest mistake the school had made was to encourage pupils to move from maths literacy to maths.
His friend, Tsietsi Ngobese, pointed out that teachers could not be blamed for the school’s dismal pass rate.
Ngobese, who also scored four distinctions, said teachers had done all they could by having morning and afternoon classes, as well as holiday tutorials.
The principal, Green Ngogodo, was not available to comment because he was attending a family funeral in the Eastern Cape.