Is school support bearing fruit?
Most underperforming schools have scored poorly for years
MOST of the schools that underperformed in the 2017 matric results have been underachieving for the past three years.
Repeated underperformance raises questions about whether the “intensive support” Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga maintained her department was providing to such schools is bearing fruit.
In the report appraising performance of schools, Motshekga said the national pass rate of 75.1% indicated support to underachieving schools was paying off.
“This is a testament that government’s pro-poor policies are working,” she said.
In the same report, Motshekga said 597 schools did not achieve performance targets. These schools “will be supported to identify the barriers to attaining these targets and to set new milestones in the academic year that lies ahead”.
Based on this report, The Star can reveal that almost all of these 597 schools have been battling to improve their performance every year.
Among them are 26 schools that have performed below 40% over the past five years, and the nine schools that achieved 0% passes in 2017.
Almost 250 of the schools failing to achieve the target of 60% over a three-year period are in the Eastern Cape.
Ntsizwa Senior, where only two matrics out of 91 passed in 2015, achieved a 22% pass rate last year when 59 pupils wrote. Its pass rate was 14.6% in 2016.
Out of 71 matrics who wrote at Zweliyandila High, only four passed. The school achieved 12.8% in 2016 and the same in 2015.
Obtaining 41.7% last year, Inzululwazi in KwaZulu-Natal improved from 33.3% in 2016 and 18.9% in 2015.
Kwamvimbela obtained 39.1% in 2017, improving from 16% of 2016.
From 0% in 2015 and 20.8% the following year, Manxele Secondary moved to 20% last year.
Zinqobele obtained 27.9% last year from 43 learners who wrote. The number of matrics fell from 129 in 2015, when it achieved just 2.3%.
Idundubala’s 7.7% pass rate out of 39 matrics in 2015 also appeared to have chased pupils away. The school scored 0% with its eight matrics last year.
Malebo Secondary School was in this category of schools in Mpumalanga. It achieved a 46.9% pass rate last year, after 38.6% in 2015 and 38.6% in 2016.
New Covenant Academy in North West scored 45%, after 23.1% in 2016 and 25% three years ago.
Regorogile Combined achieved 52.6% in 2017, up from 17.6% in 2016 and 50% in 2015.
Tong Comprehensive went from 56.4% three years ago and 42.6% in 2016 to 35.4% last year.
Sedibeng Senior in Maahlashe village, Limpopo, improved its performance to 53.6% from 35.3% in 2016 and 28.8% in 2015.
A contact in the school attributed this “still-unsatisfactory improvement” to the fact that Sedibeng got two new teachers last year. “We’ve always had a problem with the complement of teachers. Getting two more helped us a lot. We can improve some more with getting enough resources. We need things like photocopiers and computers.”
Professor Sarah Gravett, executive dean of the University of Johannesburg’s education faculty, told The Star the department’s intervention was not always a panacea for many of the schools.
“It could be that there were interventions in those schools and for some reasons they didn’t work, or that the department did not give those schools sufficient support,” she said.
“It could also be that due to rurality, the department can’t get to those schools sufficiently to give them support because they have to travel long distances. All of that plays a role.”
Many rural schools fell victim to having insufficient teachers, Gravett said.
“Some of these schools are small with only a few matriculants, and there it means the limited number of teachers must teach all the subjects.”
On the other hand, management in underachieving schools could be found wanting. “Good schools usually also have good leadership,” Gravett said.
Mugwena Maluleke, general secretary of the SA Democratic Teachers Union, said learners in rural areas needed extra support, saying many had to deal with absent parents. He called for the employment of assistant teachers in rural schools.
597 schools did not achieve performance targets