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Dismal results turned around in 1 year

Dismal results turned around in 1 year
A proud Imizamo Yethu High School principal Derick Petersen with three of his learners who achieved the highest marks: (from left) Siyamthanda Makisu (distinction: Life Orientation), Sesethu Dingiswayo (distinctions: Life Orientation, Religious Studies) and Chrismarie Maya (distinction: Life Orientation). Photos: LeeAnne Pratt
GEORGE NEWS - From a dismal 27% pass rate to 82% in just one year. That is the incredible feat that Imizamo Yethu High School principal Mr Derick Petersen and his staff accomplished in 2011.

With confident determination, Petersen requested that the George Herald visit his school when the matric results would be released - this whilst his learners were only halfway through their final exams in 2011. He was that confident that his school’s pass rate would be a vast improvement to the previous year’s.

Petersen was appointed as caretaker principal at the beginning of 2011 after this high school in Thembalethu was labelled as dysfunctional, requiring high impact intervention after its 27% pass rate in 2010.

Although his leadership style initially met with resistance, Petersen knew that he had been called to the school for a reason. For him, 2011 would be "a year for me to give back" to the community, stressing that "2010 was the last time that we wasted potential".

In his ministerial speech last week, Minister of Education Donald Grant made reference to this Southern Cape school saying, "I am extremely proud to cite some wonderful examples of schools that have performed especially well in often difficult circumstances".

These "circumstances" caused Petersen and the Department of Education’s Thandi Voyi (circuit team leader in this district), Kenneth Ndzoto (IMG), Lenise Hendricks and Alta Raath to find solutions for the matriculants’ difficulties. This included identifying problem subjects, focusing on learner achievements and curriculum delivery challenges, teacher productivity in the classroom and their absenteeism, subject choices, lack of parental involvement, and the lack of infrastructure and facilities.

Intervention initiatives such as the following were instituted:
  • School days only started when the last learner arrived at school and the day would only end when the wasted minutes from the latecomers were caught up;
  • Teacher productivity was challenged by looking at their internal results;
  • A 100% adherence to the curriculum was instituted;
  • The school’s matric farewell was held on 29 July so as to not interfere with their prelim exams.
Although Petersen believes that the reason for the school’s good performance lies in the cooperation of his 47 educators, he also applauds the learners’ parents and the community who made a serious effort to improve results.

He even praised the school’s caretakers who opened classrooms over weekends and in the afternoon for learners to participate in extra lessons such as the interactive telematics education programme.

Furthermore, this happy principal lauds the support the school received from the Western Cape Education Department’s district director, Ms Florence Rhoxo and her district office, MEC Donald Grant, Director General Penny Vinjevold, Imizamo Yethu’s deputy principals Falaki Mboyti and Pumla Cona, matric grade head Rosetta Christoffels, and the positive role played by SADTU and the representative council of learners.

Imizamo Yethu boasts a 100% pass rate in Afrikaans and English as first additional languages, IsiXhosa and Life Orientation. The following pass rates were obtained in the other subjects: Physical Science (96,2%), Maths Literacy (87,8%), Agricultural Science (77%) and Business Studies (75%).

Although the 35,8% pass rate in Mathematics is a concern that will be addressed this year, for now, Imizamo Yethu’s 2011 matriculants and staff are celebrating the fruits of a year of hard work and positive changes.

These Imizamo Yethu matriculants looked concerned when they were called to the front of hall to face their peers. They were, however, three of the 39 learners whose excellent marks allow them to study at degree level.

00:00 (GMT+2), Thu, 12 January 2012
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