MEADOWLANDS Secondary School is listed as one of the worst-performing schools in Gauteng.

MEADOWLANDS Secondary School is listed as one of the worst-performing schools in Gauteng.

Surprisingly the principal, Moses Senye, is the regional chairperson of the South African Democratic Teacher's Union (Sadtu).

Sadtu announced in January that normal schooling would take place only when the ANC won the general elections.

Now that the ANC has won the elections, the union has started a new battle against the education department. They are disrupting classes to bolster their demand that the principals of their choice be given appointment letters.

Meadowlands is way down the list of Gauteng's best-performing schools at number 133 out of 140. Last year the school's matric pass rate dropped by 19,07percent from 48,76percent.

Senye joined the school in 2002. He said: "The school has improved a lot. Before I came to the school the matric pass rate was at 4percent. I managed to turn that around. In 2006, the school obtained 63percent."

Last year's matriculants were the first group to write the National Curriculum Statement.

"With last year's results you cannot blame us. We tried our best. Bad results were recorded across the country. Teachers spent four years in college to learn a curriculum.

"With the new one they only had 40 hours training. It was hard for them and learners."

Meadowlands Secondary opened in 1956 and is one of the schools that were affected by the June 16 1976 school uprisings.

Senye is a member of the June 16 Foundation and a negotiator for the provincial Education Labour Relations Council.

Asked whether his many affiliations did not hamper his work as a principal, he said: "I only attend meetings if they are extremely important. We signed the quality learning campaign and that means union members should not be absent from schools for more than 30 days. They should only attend union meetings for seven days.

"So far, I have spent nine days away from school. I am always the first person to arrive and the last to leave."

He and Sam Nengwekhulu were last year acquitted of assault charges. They were accused of assaulting Clare Lucas, principal of St George's Primary School in Ennerdale, two pupils and the school's cleaner on June 4 2007 during the public sector strike.

All state witnesses except Lucas withdrew.

"It was an attempt to blackmail the union but it failed. There was no evidence I attacked anyone," Senye said.

Mxolisi Mdunyelwa, who has taught at the school since 1982, said: "Discipline is a nationwide problem. Through teamwork between teachers and learners the school is improving."

Teachers and pupils alike praise their principal. Patricia Nkosi, a Grade 12 pupil, said: "Our principal is very supportive. He ensures that everyone comes for extra classes. The problem is that some learners are not dedicated to their schoolwork."