Learners at state-of-the-art establishment try to

A film of dust covers leaves of the shrubs, choking whatever life remains in the scorching hellhole called Southey Village outside Ganyesa .

A film of dust covers leaves of the shrubs, choking whatever life remains in the scorching hellhole called Southey Village outside Ganyesa .

The sandy dust is a clear sign that the great Namib Desert is fast encroaching. It is everywhere.

You see it on the fence. You feel it when the car does a jik dance, when your throat hurts and your eyes sting. You see it when donkeys, pulling carts and human cargo pass by, their hooves stomping, sending up dusty clouds to cling to washing lines and turn clothes the colour of chocolate.

In the middle of this village, outside Vryburg in North West, is a state-of-the art school called Kgononyane Secondary School.

It is the same school that brought notoriety to the mainly peasant population who would far rather have been left alone.

The entire student body of 650 children - except one - have failed their grade 7 to grade 11 end-of-year examinations.

The jury is still out for matriculants whose results are expected sometime this week.

With its modern brown-brick structure, an IT centre housing 30 computers powered by satellite and a fully equipped science laboratory, Kgononyane Secondary School is a hi-tech oasis in the midst of grinding poverty.

While everyone - including this newspaper - has blamed everyone else for the tragedy of Kgononyane Secondary School, no one has considered the socio-economic conditions in which the village finds itself.

For starters, there's almost 80 percent unemployment in the area, according to residents.

The village is peopled mostly by the elderly and the infirm. Most young, able-bodied people have left for far-flung places like Johannesburg and the platinum mines of Rustenburg.

Some leave their children in the care of grandparents, and some never return.

Many of the students who attend the luxury school do so with hunger pangs, which makes it difficult for them to concentrate in class.

What is worse, there's a revolving door when it comes to the teaching staff.

Sometimes teachers have not even finished the subjects they are teaching and are then replaced by others with a different teaching style and ethos.

Sowetan has also learnt that teaching is sometimes limited to two or three days a week, because many teachers are not local and arrive midweek at the school after visiting their homes.

Lesego Pearl Hugo, the only child who passed her exams, is taught by a Mrs Kekana who resides somewhere in Limpopo. The school principal is said to be from Mabopane near Pretoria.

Lesego says that despite the school being so well equipped technologically, she's only been inside the computer room four times this year. No teacher is dedicated to this subject.

"Besides going to school hungry, we are also disadvantaged by the ever-changing teaching staff," Lesego said.

"For instance, we had to answer question papers about things we were never taught," she said.

The 17-year-old standard nine student will proceed to matric next year, but she doubts if she'll return to the same school.

Media statements by education authorities claim they have thrown resources and time at the school to make it a success, but to no avail.

What they didn't say was that students in most grades failed their mid-year examinations.

One can only ask: Where was the intervention?

And where was the intervention when limited teaching took place during the year?

And what is the North West government doing to help alleviate the grinding poverty in the village? And where are the school-feeding schemes?

A hastily arranged meeting between school authorities and the MEC of Education on Friday resolved to establish a task team to look into the problems of the school.