Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation Pam Tshwete visited six schools in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, on Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 January. The visits were part of her constituency work, which is intended to bring parliamentarians closer to communities that they serve. Tshwete, who is responsible for wards 93, 94, 95 and 96 in Khayelitsha, visited Matthew Goniwe Memorial High School, Siphamandla Senior Secondary, Chris Hani High School, Thembani High School, Iqhayiya High Schools, and Chuma Primary School. School visits at the beginning of the year are not just the responsibility of the education department, says Tshwete. “All ministers are told by the president to visit schools countrywide on the first day of school.” The aim is to assess schools’ performance and administration and hear from the respective principals about the needs of their schools. We followed Tshwete on three of her school visits.
“All ministers are told by the president to visit schools country wide on the first day of school. It’s not only a responsibility for the department of education, all departments must go and see for themselves, ” she said.
The first stop was Matthew Goniwe, where acting principal Nozipho Skeyi briefed the minister on the school’s progress and plans to boost performance and development in 2015. Disappointingly, said Skeyi, there was a drop in 2014 matric pass rate from 84.4 to 72%. She said her strategy for 2015 would be to lead from behind. “I think allowing the teachers to come up with the solutions for teaching would be the great solution. To “curb the culture of bunking”, the school is implementing a new system which will require both students and teachers to swipe a card at the gate before they can enter. It will also automatically notify the parent via SMS if the learner is absent or arrives late.
Madoda Mahlutshana, who is the principal at Chris Hani High School, told the minister about the school’s lack of sport and art material for the learners. He also spoke about the issue of learners being involved in gang violence. “We gave parents an ultimatum, that if a child is ill-behaved we will expel them from the school,” he said. Tshwete promised to follow up with the relevant departments. “I will call a meeting with all the ministers, so that we can make sure all these issues are attended to,” she said.
Some of the principals talked of the worrying issues of gangsterism, teenage pregnancy and drug abuse, but there was also some good news. Siphamandla is one of the schools among the six that was a top performer in last year’s matric exams. Principal Andile Magadla said his students, who raised the pass rate of the school from 89,1 to 92.4 percent, exceeded his expectations. It was all due to hard work, he said. “The teachers were always here for extra classes and the parents as well played a big role, so it was hard work and a joint effort from all parties.”
Photography by Ndimphiwe Gilili
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