Motsoaledi wants more modern schools
Limpopo MEC for education Aaron Motsoaledi has embarked on a serious mission to change perceptions about the education state of affairs in the province.
One of the perceptions is that Limpopo is a province where pupils are taught under trees.
And because Motsoaledi has the full support of Premier Sello Moloto and national Education Minister Naledi Pandor, it is believed that the project of building real schools, especially in rural Limpopo, is achievable.
Speaking to Sowetan last Friday, the day on which Pandor officially opened the R22 million state-of-the-art Thengwe High School in Vhembe District, in the former Venda homeland, Motsoaledi said it was his dream to put an end to the traditional past outlook of "just building a cluster of classrooms", and move on to building proper schools that aim to respond positively to the needs of pupils.
If the new school building is anything to go by, then the MEC may just have a point. Situated at the foot of the Thavha ya Nngwe Mountain, the classical Thengwe High boasts an administration block, 34 classrooms, two computer centres, a library, a 1000 capacity school hall, a science laboratory, a biology laboratory and a home economics centre.
Until recently, the school was, like other typical rural schools, just a cluster of dilapidated buildings that were waiting to fall. The school's transformation started just over two years ago when Motsoaledi visited it in 2005.
He was shocked when he saw the state in which the school buildings were.
"I found more than 1800 school children crammed into some dilapidated classrooms, and my greatest fear was that the classrooms were going to fall.
"The school principal showed me a letter from building engineers advising that the school be demolished as learners would not be allowed to continue attending in those conditions," recalled Motsoaledi.
He said that during the visit he tried to open one of the doors and, to his dismay, it got stuck. He and the then head of department Professor Harry Nengwekhulu drove back to Polokwane where they met Moloto and begged him to do something about the issue. Moloto was very sympathetic, according to Motsoaledi, and that was when the mammoth project began.
A striking feature about the school, established in 1965, was that despite its limitations and handicap, it has consistently performed well and is rated among the top 10 in the province in terms of performances by its Grade 12 pupils.
Motsoaledi says the fact that the school competed with former model C schools has touched the hearts of many people - both in government and the private sector.
It is an open secret that the school has in the past eight years since 1999 not received an average pass of below 93,6 percent, the highest being 98,8 in 2005 and 98,4 last year.
Some pupils performed so well they even put the name of the school on the South African map.
Malumedzha Tendani got 400 out of 400 in economics higher grade in 1999; Ravhuanzwo Funanani also got 400 out of 400 in economics higher grade in 2001; Kharivhe Herbert achieved a 400 out of 400 pass in economics higher grade in 2005; while Ranwaha Dzudzanyo also got 400 out of 400 in physical science higher grade in 2005.
Motsoaledi also revealed that two similar schools, in Fetakgomo and Nebo, had also been completed and would be officially opened next month.
The story does not end there as, according to Motsoaledi, the department would be issuing tenders for the building of a further 19 schools throughout the province.
"Our school is like a university. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would attend a school with the best resources imaginable in my rural village," said Lusani Ravhuanzwo, a Grade 11 pupil at the school.
"Congratulations to Dr Aaron Motsoaledi for a job well done."