Masisebenze not about hardworking pupils

Amanda Ngudle

Amanda Ngudle

A little learning is a dangerous thing, our English teacher would tell us when we tried to outsmart him.

Then we were in Form 4, now Grade 11, pupils at Masisebenze High School. Our mission was to wrap up the school thing.

Mr Lephondo spared the rod and we relished his classes. He also enjoyed taking over the classes of the lazy teachers who abandoned them. Funny, the lazy teachers enjoyed spanking us and spitting out derogatory remarks at the slightest opportunity.

But when some of us walked away with academic prizes, the jokers were soon reminded of the realities of life and were set hot on our heels in pursuit of better marks. Those who gave up on the race simply got married.

A science teacher called Mr Twele had no time to play, though he had favourites like Zanele whom he affectionately called Kleintjie.

Kleintjie got by on Twele's mercy but bolted when exam time came. Years later I learnt she had fallen pregnant and had died soon afterwards from an undisclosed disease.

These were the nostalgic thoughts that swept over me when I looked at Block D of my high school this week. I was flooded with mixed emotions as I met my teachers from 1991.

Some are worn to shadows of their former selves. Not only have the years withered their looks, but time has also stolen the swing from their steps. They look haggard.

Block C has seen better days. No longer is it the quietest and cleanest block of classrooms. The classrooms resemble pig-sties.

Block D5, which hit the headlines after a pupil gave birth in it last week, is the tardiest.

The students seem listless and walk about aimlessly. The efforts of a teacher trying to keep them in line went unnoticed.

Someone kept phoning an unanswered cellphone that rang endlessly. One boy played with his seat-mate and took offence when he was asked to concentrate. His mate, also in his late teens, dragged a chair towards his desk, making an unbearable screeching sound.

The teacher who had been threatening dire consequences gave up in despair. All the while their pregnant classmates looked on in a daze. Mr Lephondo maxim rang in my head: a little learning is a dangerous thing. For sure.