While Ned Doman High School in Athlone in the Western Cape is situated in an area where socio-economic challenges such as gang violence and poverty haunt locals, the school has a great achievement to smile about.
All the Grade 12 learners who sat for the 2016 National Senior Certificate passed their exams with flying colours.
Basic Education Deputy Minister Enver Surty visited the school on Tuesday to commend learners on their achievements and hand over a new mobile library after posing for a quick celebratory picture with them.
“We are here to firstly find out if the school is ready for the 2017 academic year, but also to congratulate the 2016 learners for their wonderful achievement. Their socio-economic challenges were huge and notwithstanding that, each and every learner was able to succeed.
“They did extremely well also in terms of the quality of their passes. More than a third achieved Bachelor passes.”
He said the visit was aimed at inspiring the Class of 2017 and learners in the lower grades to work hard.
The Deputy Minister’s visit was part of the Ministry’s school visits to various parts of the country to assess school readiness after the 2017 academic year commenced last week.
The Deputy Minister met with the school’s principal, Sydney Philander, teachers and the School Governing Body to thank them for their hard work and the support they provided to the learners last year.
He later told SAnews that he was proud of the fact that the school is one of the few in the Western Cape that is inclusive.
“It is one of seven or eight high schools in the Western Cape that is inclusive and they provide opportunities for learners that are differently [abled] and that is important. It means that the leadership of the school have taken it upon themselves to ensure that those with different abilities are also accommodated and it is important that we promote inclusive education wherever possible,” he said.
Empowering learners with the written word
The Deputy Minister said, meanwhile, that the handover of the new mobile library was part of the department’s “Read to Lead” campaign, which seeks to promote literacy through reading.
“Literacy is such a huge challenge in the country and it is something that stays with the learner during his or her entire schooling career and the more enabled and empowered the learner is in terms of his or her ability to read and to read with understanding, the easier the task at school and the tertiary institutions become so we will continue promoting it.
“…The mobile library that we donated is one of the many that we have provided to different schools – schools that have achieved, schools that are less functional – so that we can promote reading in a very serious way,” said Deputy Minister Surty.
Philander said he was grateful and proud of what the learners had achieved.
“Often it is very misconstrued that to get a 100% pass rate is good for the school. It is essentially good for the child and the quality of the pass is about the child.
“Yes, our children are challenged by gang violence and different kind of challenges. Our children are challenged by transport or poor families or communities that are difficult and dysfunctional. But a school is a place where we say to them, this is where we can restart and offer opportunities that are equal to others.”
Philander said about 30% of the students attained Bachelor passes in last year’s matric exams, while about 60% achieved diploma passes. - SAnews.gov.za