Par­ents left shocked by school’s 0% pass rate

Sunday Times - - News Matrics - By BON­GANI MTHETHWA

● The ar­rival of a new prin­ci­pal who in­tro­duced early-morn­ing and evening classes as well as ex­tra les­sons at an out­side venue did not help matrics at the KwaZulu-Natal school which was im­pli­cated in a group copy­ing scan­dal in 2014.

None of the 18 pupils who wrote ma­tric ex­ams at Mpikay­izekanye Sec­ondary School in ru­ral KwaMbono, about 10km from Tugela Ferry, passed.

When Kuzwakushiwo Phun­gula was ap­pointed prin­ci­pal in 2017 to re­place Lungi Shange, who was ac­cused by par­ents of be­ing the master­mind be­hind the cheat­ing scan­dal, he in­tro­duced 6am and 7pm classes for matrics. The 18 matrics were also taken for ex­tra les­son in Dundee, about 80km from Tugela Ferry, but it was all in vain.

Phun­gula told the Sun­day Times on Thurs­day he had been ad­vised by lo­cal ed­u­ca­tion cir­cuit author­i­ties not to speak to the me­dia about the school’s 0% pass rate. He re­ferred queries to Umziny­athi dis­trict di­rec­tor Siphiwe Kh­eswa.

School gov­ern­ing body chair­man Foster Ngubane also de­clined to com­ment.

A lo­cal com­mu­nity leader, who asked not to be named, said: “It’s a big prob­lem and we’re very shocked … Af­ter the cheat­ing scan­dal we have been try­ing to get bet­ter teach­ers. We had hoped with the ar­rival of the new prin­ci­pal that the school would turn a cor­ner. As a com­mu­nity, we’re con­cerned about this and we hope ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cials will come up with a plan to help the school.”

A for­mer pupil, Zama Zondi, who failed ma­tric in 2016, was also con­cerned. “I’m sad be­cause we were hope­ful af­ter the ar­rival of the new prin­ci­pal and new staff, but it did not make a dif­fer­ence,” said the 24-year-old, who ekes out a liv­ing by sell­ing some goods in Tugela Ferry.

The Sun­day Times has also es­tab­lished that an al­leged as­sault in­ci­dent against a teacher who was con­sid­ered “too strict” re­sulted in a num­ber of teach­ers leav­ing the school, leav­ing only four teach­ers be­hind.

Those who left were teach­ers for life sciences, geog­ra­phy, life ori­en­ta­tion and English. Only the his­tory, Zulu and maths lit­er­acy teach­ers re­mained.

In 2016, Mpikay­izekanye achieved an 8.33% pass rate, up from 1.43% the pre­vi­ous year. In 2017 the pass rate was 13.16%. In 2014, the year it was ac­cused of cheat­ing, it got 43.56%. A to­tal of 167 pupils were im­pli­cated in group copy­ing.

Mpikay­izekanye is one of nine schools in KwaZulu-Natal that had a 0% pass rate.

Provin­cial ed­u­ca­tion spokesman Muzi Mahlambi said ed­u­ca­tion MEC Mthandeni Dlung­wana would meet all prin­ci­pals, dis­trict man­agers and cir­cuit man­agers of the schools that got 0% to find out about their plans to turn the sit­u­a­tion around, and why dis­ci­plinary ac­tion should not be taken.

“Most of the schools which achieved a 0% pass rate are non­vi­able schools, with few learn­ers. That’s why we … say we must merge non­vi­able schools with vi­able schools. But some­times this is met with re­sis­tance from com­mu­ni­ties.”

He de­scribed Mpikay­izekanye as a “re­peat of­fender” which had re­gressed de­spite a num­ber of in­ter­ven­tions by the de­part­ment.

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