When all grade 12 learners at Sizimisele Technical High School were registered to write mathematics for the first time, the school’s pass rate dropped by just over 50%.
In previous years, Sizimisele, which recently converted into a technical high school, allowed learners to take the less intense mathematics literacy, which previous matriculants passed with flying colours.
But in the 2016 National Senior Certificate exams, the school’s pass rate dropped from 78% to 34%, and an analysis pointed to poor mathematics and science results.
This prompted International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Nomaindiya Mfeketo to visit the school in January to find out what happened and how she can offer support.
On Friday, the Deputy Minister returned to the Khayelitsha school in the Western Cape with a mathematics and science specialist, who was recalled by his son from New Zealand to help learners with the subjects.
In an interview after the visit, the Deputy Minister said she went back to the school to fulfil a promise she made when she went there in January.
“This was a school that was [a general school] at first and then it was [converted] to be a technical high school and they did not have the resources and the assistance to be technical and from then on, I said I will see what we can do because it is clear that they need to be assisted and it cannot be only by government, but by the community and having skills to manage,” she said.
In partnership with energy firm Carbonaro Energy, the Deputy Minister marked the adoption of the school by bringing maths specialist Teddy Veerasamy to the school to help them get out of the low pass rate hole.
Addressing the event earlier on, the Deputy Minister said: “This gesture of adopting this school is an important message for the private sector in South Africa. More than painting and cleaning streets, not that these are not important, we need more long-term sustainable intervention programmes, which look to the future of our country. The private sector in South Africa needs to engage more with us as government in solution-oriented approaches.”
As the nation used the month of July to commemorate former President Nelson Mandela’s birthday, the Deputy Minister said the adoption of the school was fitting to the former statesman’s legacy as he was passionate about children and education.
“This is why we are doing it now in July. It might not be the 18th, but it is still Mandela Month and we are following his passion for education and we are building leaders of tomorrow because that education means the sky is not the limit [for the learners],” she said.
Lillo Maruping, the school’s principal, said he appreciated the initiative by the Deputy Minister and Carbonado, and hoped that it would help learners to do well in their exams later this year.
“It is going to assist us as she brought Mr Veerasamy, who is a specialist in maths and science.
“We are going to have Saturday classes, organise some programmes so that those learners will have an opportunity to be taught by somebody who has got a big knowledge on the subject hoping that that is going to boost our results because that is where we have a challenge with maths and science,” he said.
Veerasamy, who also offers his tutoring services at several other township schools – including Langa and Phillippi – says he left a teaching job in New Zealand after his son convinced him to come back to tutor learners in township schools as they were struggling with mathematics and science.
“…we have started this programme and it is running into its third year. We are running it in Langa, Phillippi and it has been a huge success and the kids at Phillippi, we have had two of them studying maths at the University of Cape Town (UCT), two of them are doing engineering, one is doing ICT, one is doing maths at Stellenbosch University and this has really made us feel proud that we are able to change lives,” he said.