Under the noses of Eastern Cape education headquarters officials, at least 29 Grade 12 pupils are forced to write their matric exams squashed together in a single garage. them is Luhle Dolosi (20), who dreams of being a land surveyor one day, despite indications of more poor provincial matric results this year.
Iqonce High School in King William’s Town is barely 10km from the province’s education head office, but its pupils have lost out on a plan set up to help thousands of Eastern Cape matriculants prepare for exams because the school no longer conducts supplementary tutoring sessions.
Dolosi and her classmates are caught up in a web of incompetence and lack of political will after provincial authorities scuppered Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s plans to take total control of the provincial education department five years ago. The school has received no support.
“I’m the only hope for my family. I’m the only one who has a chance to take them out of poverty. I want to get educated and get a decent job to also help my siblings to be somebody in life,” Dolosi said with great enthusiasm. She has two siblings who look up to her.
Her mother is unemployed and the family lives off her two siblings’ child support grants.
“We survive by social grant money. I don’t have a choice but to pass this year. I don’t know what will happen thereafter, but I’d like to study further and be a land surveyor one day,” she said.
Since she enrolled at the school last year in Grade 11, Dolosi has endured studying in makeshift classrooms and has to duck rats and cockroaches.
These were converted garages, parking lots and dilapidated offices that were turned into classrooms when parents moved their children from the overcrowded Forbes Grant School in Ginsberg to occupy deserted municipal offices in 1998.
Their cries for proper classrooms over the years have fallen on deaf ears. Adding insult to injury, in July, a fire gutted two critical makeshift classrooms, which were used as after-school Ilima tutorial centres.
School principal Xhasumzi Mrwashu said he reported the incident immediately to the district office, which is less than 5km away, but nothing has happened.
“I’m worried about our overall results this year. Ilima helped us in 2014 to reach a 57% pass rate, but since we don’t have these facilities any more, we don’t have [supplementary tutoring] classes.”
Last year, the school’s pass rate dropped to 38%. But Mrwashu was prepared to turn the tide this year
HEADING FOR FAILURE Iqonce High School pupils stand outside a garage they use as a classroom