'Verwoerd is put to shame'

IF the man known as the mastermind of apartheid, Hendrik Verwoerd, knew how well the children of Sibambanezulu High School in Umbumbulu were performing, he would be turning in his grave.

This was said by KwaZulu-Natal MEC for education Senzo Mchunu when he addressed more than 500 pupils yesterday. The school achieved an 83percent pass rate last year, an improvement of almost 50percent compared to 49percent in 2008 .

Mchunu was invited to the school as it received sponsorship from Absa Bank. He said the school had much potential. "Despite the fact that you don't have a laboratory, a school hall or a library, you still managed to improve your results," Mchunu said.

He said his department was determined to make a success of its pupils. "The country has a shortage of skills and we need to fill these with engineers, lawyers, auditors and doctors, and we need to do this with speed.

"We also want to improve the quantity of pupils who pass Grade 12 and their quality. Too often pupils pass matric and enter tertiary level to study engineering or medicine and drop out in the first six months. This is because the education they receive at school level is shallow. The message we want to send to Verwoerd is that we are not only going to do mathematics and science as black pupils but we are going to excel in them," said Mchunu.

Tiny Msomi, who lives in a childheaded household with her sister, said she intended to heed Mchunu's call. "My life with my sister is very hard since my mother died. I am in Grade 12 and I would like to be an engineer. We sometimes go to sleep on empty stomachs. I study by candlelight and we live on R240 a month we get as a grant," she said.