Teachers want more than just tutors to improve results

THULANI MAGAZI

Principals of some of the so-called underperforming schools have cautiously welcomed an intervention by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) to help them improve their matric results this year.

Last week, the provincial department released names of 27 schools deemed to be underperforming.

The department said its key objective strategies included increasing the number of candidates passing matric and improving the quality of results.

According to the department, every high school was provided with a “detailed report on their matric results in the first week of the 2016 school year. The reports drill down to results for every question in every paper and help districts and schools to obtain a thorough understanding of areas needing special attention”.

The WCED says circuit managers would then sign off school improvement plans to assist the districts. “The WCED will work with schools to implement a wide range of matric support interventions, as required,” a statement from the department read.

Out of the 27 schools, seven are in Vukani’s distribution area.

They are Khulani and Langa high schools, in Langa, Intshukumo Comprehensive, in Gugulethu, New Eisleben and Nelson Mandela high schools, in Crossroads, Sithembele Matiso, in New Crossroads and Thembelihle High School, in Town Two, Khayelitsha. Thembelihle obtained a 59.3% pass rate, with Intshukumo getting 58.4%. Nelson Mandela got 55.9%, while Sithembele Matiso achieved 53.8%.

Langa High School was the worst performer, achieving 41.9%, with New Eisleben getting 47.1%. Out of 129 pupils who wrote their matric examinations at Langa High, only 54 passed. Approached for comment, the school principal refused to speak to Vukani about the department’s intervention. She demanded to see the department’s media statement instead.

Khulani principal Bonakele Busika said they were fully aware of the department’s intervention.

While he welcomed it, he said there were other factors, such as security, which contributed to the decline in pass rate. He said the school was broken into “every other day” and that demoralised the teachers. “It has also affected my own morale,” he said.

He added they have consistently called for better fencing of the school and support from the department, but “they are not coming to the party.”

He said some of the pupils sit on 20-litre containers because of the lack of chairs. During the examinations last year they had to borrow chairs from nearby schools.

Mr Busika said the school has been working hard to improve its pass rate, achieving 62% in 2013. The figure dropped to 42% in 2014. It improved significantly last year to 58.2%, but still fell short of the required 60% mark. Some of the interventions include hosting a spring school. While appreciating the deployment of tutors, he said school challenges went beyond the classroom.

Mr Busika said some of the pupils come from far areas and were expected to perform well. He said one of the pupils travels to Langa from Atlantis every day, while they also have pupils from Dunoon and Khayelitsha.

“I think it would be better if that support can be given to the entire school,” he said, referring to the various challenges they need help with.

His counterpart from Sithembele Matiso, Vusumzi Ntlahla said the other problem was the lack of parent support.

He regarded the drop in the pass rate as being influenced by society. “Some of our kids also head families. These are some of the things the department might have to look at,” he said, calling for the change of attitudes among pupils and parents.

“We need the support of the broader community. You will find that our kids come late to school, but the moment they go to schools on the other side of the railway line they are first to arrive at school.”

Commenting on the intervention, Mr Ntlahla said there should be help and support in all the subjects. In its current form, he said the intervention made the schools feel like yoyos, indicating that sometimes they are uplifted with support but are then left alone, causing marks to drop again.

“When they see that you are struggling they come and give you support for that particular year to improve your results, they then go away. The rate goes down again. Our school will be a yoyo,” he said.