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Teachers, pupils and parents all gave 100%

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Four Northern Cape high schools achieved a 100% matric pass rate

File image. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

THE NORTHERN Cape schools that secured a 100% matric pass rate in the 2020 National Senior Certificate examinations said that a strong partnership between parents and educators, including the provincial Department of Education, was at the foundation of their success.

Four high schools in the Province – Hopetown High School, Calvinia High School, Prieska High School and Vaalharts High School – managed to secure 100% pass rates.

The Northern Cape achieved a pass rate of 66%, making it the worst performing province in the country.

The principal of Hopetown High, Tienie Smit, whose school has secured a 100% pass rate for almost three decades, said that they aim to instil a culture of learning in all their learners from the very start.

At Tuesday’s provincial matric awards ceremony in Kimberley, Hopetown High was awarded for maintaining a 100% pass rate for over five years.

Smit said on Wednesday that the dedication of all role-players played a major role in the school maintaining this prestigious record.

“We have secured a 100% pass rate since 1992. That was 29 years ago. We always instil a culture of learning in all learners and personnel. However, it is not just a one-way plan, as we also get the parents actively involved in the schooling of their children. The hard work by educators and learners and the support from parents, as well the department, has over the years enabled us to reap the rewards,” said Smit.

He said that 2020 was a challenging year, but added that they were at least able to continue with learning as their class size is smaller than other schools in the Province.

“We had 25 learners in our matric class. Our class was small and we were able to continue with classes. All our educators also conducted classes with the learners despite the country being in a pandemic.

“We also had to get the support and understanding from parents about online learning and they totally put their weight behind us by encouraging their children to study. That is, again, where the importance of a culture of learning once again plays a role. Without dedicated learners, educators and parents who support, as well as encourage, their children, the result will not be as successful.

“We were not only fortunate to have a smaller class than the normal public schools, but we managed to get the input from the community,” Smit said.

The principal of Calvinia High, Altus van Zyl, also attributed their success to the dedication of the teachers and the learners and the role played by the broader school community.

Van Zyl said the fact that they only had 25 matric pupils was also in their favour.

“All our teachers and learners were at school each day. Even the teachers with comorbidities came to school. We were able to fully utilise our time for learning and teaching. The parents and the school governing body (SGB) also played a vital role during this time,” said Van Zyl.

He said that because of the small class size, they were able to put some of the parents’ fears about Covid-19 at ease.

“Our class was small and we communicated to parents about the measures we have put in place to ensure the safety of their children as well as the safety of the staff. The pandemic placed a lot of pressure on everyone and it affected everyone in different ways. We were fortunate to have been spared that and our learners showed dedication until the end.”

Van Zyl added that they also made use of additional resources to continue with learning.

“All schools had to close during the hard lockdown. We were, however, able to attend school on June 8, 2020 when the initial announcement about the reopening was made. When schools were closed we managed to continue with online learning, where we especially focussed on subjects such as mathematics, accounting and physical science.

“The fact that the learners also gave their full dedication to their school work while they had to study in isolation, is also commendable.”

Lorieta Zellie, who was appointed acting principal of Prieska High last year, said that schools with a smaller number of learners were more fortunate to be able to continue with learning during the pandemic.

“We only had 27 matric learners and our classes are smaller so we were able to continue with learning for all our school grades. We had the capacity to be able to adhere to the Covid-19 regulations because we had enough space in our school,” said Zellie.

She said the support they received from parents and staff also helped immensely.

“Nobody had a blueprint or reference on how to deal with Covid-19. The entire country was faced with a pandemic and it was a stressful time for everyone. We continuously talked to our learners in order to assess their emotional well-being. As much as Covid-19 is a virus, it also affected many people emotionally. We had to ensure that our learners were doing fine emotionally,” added Zellie.

She said they also held meetings with parents where they provided updates on how the children were progressing.

“This was not a one-man show. We gave parents information and updates on the progress of their children and also how they can assist them at home. To have to send a child home with homework is good but it does not always result in the child actually completing their homework or even understanding the work. Having the support from everyone alleviates the pressure of having to drag a child to want to do the work.”