Teachers’ sacrifices yield rewards
DEDICATED teachers in District Six who sacrificed their family time on countless Saturdays – without compensation – to provide extra maths lessons have reaped the rewards of their efforts.
Coupled with the addition of a new school library, and literacy and counselling support, the school was able to make a dramatic turnaround in its maths and literacy results over the past year.
Zonnebloem Boys’ Primary principal Deon May scooped top honours for his school at the Language and Mathematics Awards Ceremony of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) at Groote Schuur High last night as a result of these and various other recent academic interventions.
The school, situated on the Zonnebloem College Estate in the heart of District Six, showed an “excellent improvement” in both its Grade 3 and Grade 6 mathematics and English systemic results, according to the WCED.
The Zonnebloem Boys’ Primary School’s results improved, from a 63% Grade 6 maths pass rate in 2016, which was on par for the average achieved by comparable schools, to 84.2% at the end of 2017, far higher than the provincial average.
A score of 50% or higher counts as a pass in the WCED systemic tests.
Zonnebloem Boys’ Grade 6 language results also improved dramatically over the same period. In 2016 only 44% of its Grade 6 contingent passed the WCED’s systemic language proficiency test, but a year later that number nearly doubled, with a whopping 78.9% of the Grade 6 boys passing the test.
At Grade 3 level, the improvement in results was also significant. In 2016, only 39.4% of Grade 3 pupils passed both the WCED’s systemic maths and language tests.
But in 2017, the pass percentage rate shot up to 90.2% and 73.2% respectively for maths and languages.
This was th anks to the efforts of teachers Caroline Mateveka and Xolelwa Dyantyi, said May.
He said one of the school’s greatest challenges was that the majority of pupils started Grade R or 1 with a minimal or non-existent command of the English language. This also impacted on maths comprehension.
“We believe our results improved dramatically due to serious maths and language interventions, including the opening of our new library, The Sunflower Learning Centre, as well as through a winning partnership with Shine Literacy, psycho-social NGO Community Keepers, the Otto Foundation and other stakeholders. And, of course, dedicated teaching was pivotal,” said May.
They were not paid, and even bought treats with their own money
Over the past year, May and his Grade 6 teacher Lulama Mnyango came to school virtually every Saturday, sacrificing their free time to provide their boys with extra maths tuition. They were not paid, and even bought treats with their own money.
“I believe schools can turn around their results with the help of good, engaging, passionate teachers who ignite a joy for learning, that set attainable short-term goals with the learners, that create inviting safe spaces, that seek out appropriate resources and create the time to consolidate their learning – because the curriculum is very jam-packed.
“On top of this, schools cannot succeed without good collaboration between SGBs, teaching staff and parents, as well as supportive external partners – this is something we worked hard on improving over the past year. All of these things add up to get the basics of reading, reading comprehension, writing and basic arithmetic right,” said May.
May said embracing change is never easy, but when partnerships are established and share a common vision, goals and strategic plans, good results can be achieved.
Zonnebloem Boys’ Primary, in collaboration with its sister school Zonnebloem Girls’ and various other partners, is staging the inaugural Zonnebloem Schools Festival this Saturday on the Zonnebloem College Estate.
It invites the community for a day of celebration and fund-raising to overcome historic under-resourcing.
• Find more information on Facebook: https://www. facebook.com/Zonnebloebloem. FestCT2018/
NURTURING YOUNG MINDS: Zonnebloem Boys’ Primary principal Deon May scooped top honours for his school at the Language and Mathematics Awards Ceremony of the Western Cape Education Department.