Vandalised school beats odds
Rephafogile secondary school in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria, was on Friday announced as the most-improved township school in the 2018 matric exams.
The matric pass rate at the school improved to 96.2% in 2018 from 47% in 2017.
Principal Willemina Mahlangu said it was the first time that the seven-year-old school got above 80%.
"I am very excited about our improvement as it shows that hard work and dedication pay. Last year, we decided to adopt learners who were struggling with their workload to make sure they are not left behind.
"We also had to set strict rules for our learners as we had a problem of pupils bunking classes.
"To motivate grade 12 pupils, we had frequents meetings with them and also introduced learner awards every term," Mahlangu said.
She said although they have made tremendous progress, problems at the school were far from over.
"Our school is in [an] informal settlement in Mamelodi and every week we are subjected to theft and burglary. As a result, 50% of our learners don't have furniture even though the school governing body managed to buy some furniture.
"All the windows have been broken, forcing us to replace them with plastic windows. Our labs have been vandalised. We don't have sporting codes. If these challenges can be sorted out, we can easily get a 100% pass rate."
Gauteng MEC for education Panyaza Lesufi said schooling in townships has shown a lot of improvement.
"We have increased the number of schools, including township schools that have achieved 90% and above pass rate. This year, about 250 schools achieved above 95% and 108 schools achieved 100%," Lesufi said.
"We are proud of the 10 township schools that achieved 100% despite the challenges they face."
Lesufi said only 16 public schools performed below 65%, which was the national benchmark for underperformance.
Meanwhile, Free State pupil Aaron Mokoena, 17, earned five distinctions despite his home being next to a noisy tavern in Bolata, QwaQwa.
Mokoena will study chemical engineering at the University of Pretoria.