Top of the class for Free State poorest
Diligent principal plus hard-working kids equals success
● Lessons for matrics at Lekgulo Secondary in the Free State run seven days a week and start at the crack of dawn.
Matrics from the poor village of Matebeleng, as well as neighbouring villages, also spend more than four months of the year camping out at the school to study almost around the clock for the exams.
Their dogged determination to pass, as well as their teachers’ commitment to help them succeed, has paid huge dividends.
Lekgulo Secondary and Mohaladitwe Secondary, both in Phutaditjhaba in the former QwaQwa homeland, are the only quintile 1 schools in SA to have achieved a 100% matric pass from 2014 to 2018. A quintile 1 school is a no-fee school catering for some of SA’s poorest children.
Last year, Thabang Mosia wrote himself into the history books at Lekgulo Secondary by becoming the first pupil in the school’s existence to bag seven distinctions.
The school’s matrics notched up 99 distinctions, including five in physical science and four each in maths and life sciences. Of the 101 matric candidates, 69 achieved a bachelor’s pass, qualifying for university admission.
Of the 685 pupils attending the school last year, 195 were orphans, including 38 who were in matric. A further 305 had only one parent and more than half of the pupils were recipients of child support grants.
Lekgulo Secondary’s principal, Mirriam Khanya, said pupil and teacher absenteeism was a “no-no”.
Khanya, who was not absent from school for a single day last year, said teachers who were absent had to provide a “recovery plan” when they resumed duty, indicating how they were going to catch up on the lessons.
School starts at 6am from Monday to Sunday and finishes at 5.30pm over weekdays, 2pm on Saturdays and 3pm on Sundays. It is also mandatory for pupils to study at home seven days a week from 7pm to 10pm.
Khanya randomly tests pupils at school the following day on sections that they had to study the previous night.
“I also check to see if the child is at home at night by calling the parent and asking to speak to the child.”
Teachers are also asked to re-teach a lesson if pupils did not understand it.
“If the principal can’t control and monitor the learners, teachers and the heads of departments, there will be no results. I am working round the clock to make sure they [pupils] get a better life than their parents.”
Her matric accounting teacher, Lehlohonolo Khanye, said it was the norm at the school to complete the syllabus by July so that revision started from August.
“We don’t talk about a 30% or 40% pass anymore but a 50% pass. At our school, we preach about a bachelor’s pass.”
He said the school did not tolerate ill-disciplined pupils. “If a learner transgresses any of the camp rules, the learner is immediately expelled from the camp.”
Khanye’s colleague, Mthobisi Khumalo, said although he had been disappointed with his pupils’ overall performance in maths, he was very proud of the school’s 100% pass rate for five consecutive years. One out of the 45 pupils who wrote maths failed.
Physical science teacher Lerato Ramabodu, 23, attributed his top results to the extra tuition offered during the morning classes and the camps.
Five of his pupils achieved distinctions, including one who scored 98%.
The school’s star pupil, Mosia, said perseverance and self-discipline helped him achieve seven distinctions.
“This is a village school and for it to get 100% for five years is a great achievement. I feel very proud to have contributed towards this tremendous achievement.”
Mohaladitwe Secondary principal Sehloho Moletsane said teamwork and co-operation from parents helped his school achieve a 100% pass for the past five years.
“Everybody is a team player. We try to sit down and sort our differences so that when we go to learners, we are one.”
Of the 84 pupils who wrote all seven subjects, 36 attained a bachelor’s pass.
The school had eight distinctions.
His school’s physical science teacher, Teboho Moloi, 24, who taught the subject for the first time in matric last year, said: “When you come to a school like this, you know you don’t have options. You have to work hard as well to make sure you maintain the standard.”
Karabo Motaung, principal Mirriam Khanya and Thabang Mosia of Lekgulo Secondary School. The Free State village school has achieved a 100% matric pass rate for five years in a row. Mosia last year bagged seven distinctions.