Top of the class for Free State poor­est

Dili­gent prin­ci­pal plus hard-work­ing kids equals suc­cess

Sunday Times - - News Matrics - By PREGA GOVENDER

● 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.”

Pic­ture: Sim­phiwe Nk­wali

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.

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