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Setswakgosing casts net wide

In the small but bustling village of Morokeng Village, the Industrial Development Corporation has adopted Setswakgosing High School. The school is also calling on parents and the community to get involved in improving the pupils’ prospects

May 6, 2013

CSIsetswa insideOlaotse Morake, the head of Setswakgosing High School

A Tswana idiom holds that “it takes a village to raise a child”. It is a sentiment close to the heart of the principal of Setswakgosing High School.

Olaotse Morake, the head of the school in Morokeng Village in North West Province, believes that the community forgets it has a role to play in making sure there is a quality education system for pupils.

Community involvement

“The only people who are involved with us are a pastor, who regularly comes to pray with us, and the police, who come to tell the pupils about crime and its consequences. We need social workers to come and assist the pupils who have problems,” he says, adding that there is a lack of role players in the community, though there are some who are doing their part in trying to eliminate negative patterns.

“Individuals such as those from the Kopano Youth Club, who are from the village and have made it in the big cities, are now encouraging [the pupils] to aspire for more,” said Morake.

Kopano Youth Club was established in 2003 primarily to address the socio-economic environment of the region, and encourage the youth of Morokeng, Tseoge and other neighbouring communities to improve their lives. Morake explains: “They think that because of the poverty in the village, they will not be able to make it out and fulfil their dreams.”

Morokeng is 140 kilometres away from the nearest town of Vryburg. Unlike many other villages, it’s a hub of activity filled with taxis, cattle, and people. Speaking about community involvement, Morake gives as an example a bar not far from the school. If the owner of the bar was involved with the school, they could ensure that pupils cannot buy alcohol during school hours.

“Such people do not come to meetings when we invite them and that leaves us to police that pupils do not come back from break having drunk alcohol, because they buy food next to the same bar,” he says. “The community forgets that it’s all of our responsibility to make sure these pupils become good citizens.”

Adopted school

CSIsetswa insideLearners are encouraged to study hard

Setswakgosing, a no-fee school, is one of 20 schools across South Africa adopted by the Industrial Development Corporation through its Whole School Development Programme. The IDC works in partnership with Adopt-a-School Foundation, an NGO, on the venture. The adopted schools will be under the wing of the two organisations for five years.

Morake points out that the school needs renovations because it is gradually losing its value. “We also have tennis courts that need sprucing up so the pupils can enjoy a new activity, and we need a school hall.” At present, Setswakgosing offers soccer, netball, and volleyball as extramural activities.

School’s history

Setswakgosing was built in 1990 by the government of the old homeland of Bophuthatswana, and started functioning in 1991. “There was no high school around so the pupils had to go to Kganyisa, which is 70 kilometres away. So the Bophuthatswana government decided to build the school,” Morake explains.

“The 39 percent in 2010 was the last year of the previous principal. We decided to change the strategy for matric pupils after that and we now keep them at the school during the final exams so we can monitor their movement and work with them after hours. When they are studying from home there are many distractions so them being here enables them to focus better.”

CSIsetswa insideA tennis court lies idle

This does not mean that the pupils are incapable of studying and passing alone, Morake stresses, but that their morale is low because they do not see life beyond their community. The school offers all the subjects in the curriculum except computer science.

“We have 20 computers at the school but we can’t offer them as a subject because whenever we try use them all at once they trip the electricity. What’s more sad is that Eskom is right next to the school but does not want to help.”

This is “funny”, he adds, as the school uses a borehole for water and when there are problems with it, Eskom helps.

Morake started teaching in 1990 as an unqualified educator, meaning a teacher with only matric. “There was a shortage of teachers; that’s why we were roped in. There were also teachers from other African countries who struggled to teach in Setswana. This is what made me aspire to be a fully qualified teacher by going to college,” he recalls.

He earned R500 a month as an unqualified teacher but was able to put himself through college. “I qualified as a teacher in 1994 and got a post at Okgodiseng, a middle school in the area.” In 2007, he started at Setswakgosing as a deputy principal, where he remained until 2011, when the principal resigned. The vacant post was advertised; he applied and became the principal.

Maths and science

CSIsetswa insideThe school library is in need of new books

“I believe there are problems in the country regarding maths and science because the pupils do not get a great background from primary school,” Morake says, adding that primary school teachers sometimes do not specialise in maths until college, so their explanations are not those of somebody who has lived and breathed mathematics.

“A teacher must make a pupil love maths in his methods of teaching. When a pupil starts in Grade 1, they know nothing about mathematics so if the educator doesn’t instil the love of maths in their head, the pupil has started on the wrong footing.

“If learners are shown how technology and life intertwine they will realise how important those subjects are for humanity.”

Ernest Kuracha, a maths teacher at the school, adds: “It is quiet challenging with the younger classes because they are not yet disciplined, while these two subjects require discipline, especially science and the chemicals used.”

The school has four Grade 10 maths classes, three in Grade 11, and two in Grade 12. “In 2010, we got 37 percent for science, 94 percent in 2011, and, 59 percent in 2012,” Kuracha says.

Thabang Dinoko, who is in Grade 12, says: “I chose maths and science because they deal with solving problems. I’ve always been an inventor of some sort. I’d like to be an electrical engineer and I feel a distinction is possible in maths.” Thabang got 67 percent for his first term.

Sello Mmereki, who is also in Grade 12, says: “I chose maths and science because of the value of those subjects in our society. I would like to do chemical engineering.” He got 63 percent for his first term.

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