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Going extra mile pays off for schools

Siphamandla High School situated near Enkanini informal settlement achieved a 93.5% pass rate for their 2021 matric class. | PHANDO JIKELO African News Agency (ANA)

Siphamandla High School situated near Enkanini informal settlement achieved a 93.5% pass rate for their 2021 matric class. | PHANDO JIKELO African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 28, 2022

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CAPE TOWN - For Khayelitsha high school pupils who face social ills and economic strife, the support of teachers and principals can make the difference between failure and success, with some schools having morning, afternoon, weekend, and holiday classes up until the day pupils write their matric exams.

Siphamandla High School situated near Enkanini informal settlements achieved a 93.5% pass rate for their 2021 matric class.

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Principal Lonwabo Mbeke said the school has morning, afternoon, weekend, and holiday classes until the very last day before pupils write their exams.

School principal Lonwabo Mbeke said the school often receives learners not properly equipped for high school, and they needed to be taught the basics before getting acquainted with the actual content for the year.

“Teaching and success is not a secret, it is something that is well known to everyone else. Naturally if you go to the very affluent schools you are going to find that there is only one specific time to teach.

“Unfortunately, that to us is not sufficient because of the background and language barrier, together with the quality of learners that we receive from the primary schools. If we say we are only going to use the time we get during the week, unfortunately it’s not going to work.”

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Mbeke said norms of teaching times and learner expectations had to be changed, as the school pushed to exceed their previous targets.

Mbeke added that the school always appealed for parental support and tried hard to motivate educators to go the extra mile.

“We have morning, afternoon, weekend, and holiday classes until the very last day when they write. Other people are not doing what we are doing for various reasons including being demotivated. We have an established culture of success where everyone owns an understanding and importance of success.

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“Hopelessness is one of the challenges that we encounter and lack of parental support. Especially for boys, there is a gang-related activity and it…disrupts a lot of things. Many of the boys end up dropping out of school and if not, they end up being injured. Last year I had four boys who were stabbed and could not even write matric exams,” he said.

Zola Business High School teacher Shiwe Nyhila said the school had managed to improve its matric results from 79% in 2020 to 84.5% in 2021.

He said the school had extra programs during weekends, along with career exhibitions that help learners to envision what they want to do in the future.

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“As the school we are a very united team, we put our focus and effort in. Persistence is what we always maintain at the school but we also encourage learners including the parents to push hard and always make sure that things are up to date. We start from grade 10 preparing for their future.

“Covid-19 did disrupt things here and there but we were never demotivated by it because as the school, we have a goal to achieve despite the challenges we face. The staff are very supportive to each other and to our learners. What also motivated the parents to be supportive of their children is that we always give them a weekly and monthly report on the progress of learners.”

Nyhila said teachers have sacrificed a lot of time to make sure that learners are studying and motivated and this ultimately saw an improvement in results.

Harry Gwala High School principal Gcinisile Mlungu said it was important to finish the syllabus before time so that pupils had plenty of time to revise for trial exams.

In the 2020 matric exams, the school achieved a 74% pass rate, and in 2021 increased this to 85.4%.

The school however continued to experience challenges with attendance.

“For us to achieve our marks we had camps from the beginning of the year, even during the weekends. Around August we had partnerships with individuals within the community who came and motivated learners especially the grade 12’s and their parents.

“The educators also have gone the extra mile by having extra classes during the week and on weekends.

“As we speak, we have already started morning classes for grade 12’s. Our aim is to keep on increasing our percentage every year and that means we will have to come up with various ways to keep motivated to do more,” Mlungu said.

Former Grade 12 learner at Thembelihle High School, Ayabulela Mbangatha said if it were not for his teachers and parents’ support, he would not have managed to get a bachelor’s pass.

“The educator’s role at school is to teach, guide and motivate us to do more but at the end of the day, it’s up to the learner to work hard to have good marks so that you can qualify for a tertiary level education.

“Others have a tendency to think that they are doing it for the school, forgetting that you have to impress yourself before impressing others.

“As a class of 2021 we have been through a lot. Some of us who live in informal settlements had to learn under harsh conditions, sometimes we would not have electricity while having to prepare for a test or a shack is burnt and that affects you psychologically, but despite those challenges, some of us have managed to stay focus and not let obstacles to get in our way,” said Mbangatha.

Cape Times

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