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Top school draws pupils

Parents from near and far choose to send their children to Tshivhase Secondary School, for its discipline, dedicated teachers and good results. It has been selected for assistance over the next five years by the Industrial Development Corporation.

June 11, 2013

CSItshivhase insideTshivhase principal Fhatuwani Maselesele

About 200 kilometres from the Beit Bridge border, in the village of Tshivhase, is a school that has been getting a matric pass rate of over 90% for years; and it will now be helped to achieve even better.

Tshivhase Secondary School is one of three top performing schools in Limpopo; the other two are Mbilwi Secondary and Thengwe Secondary. Fhatuwani Maselesele, the Tshivhase principal, says: “The pupils are not even from around the area, which shows how much the parents value this school and its teachers, who are still teachers in the truest [sense].”

Instead, the pupils come from further afield, from Lambani, Thouyandou, Thengwe and Phiphidi. Maselesele explains that they come to his school because of the discipline, the committed teachers, and the great matric results.

Tshivhase, 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 is working 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.

When it opened, the school only taught Grade 10, but now it has grades 8 to 12. There are 2 348 pupils to 73 teachers; there are 225 maths pupils in matric and 163 pupils studying science. “The school was first situated at the Donald Frasier Hospital, which was a mission. It was moved to this site in 1950 and renamed Tshivhase Secondary from McDonald Combined School because it was built by the Tshivhase Tribal Council,” Maselesele explains.

“Our motto is ‘Vhasa ndi fhise’, meaning ‘bring the wood I’ll burn it’. This means bring your child and we will mould them to be great.” He started teaching at Tshivhase in 1986 and hopes this is the last school he is at before he becomes a circuit manager for the Department of Education in the near future.

“I was admitted to this post on 1 March 2009 after being acting principal for a year when the principal left. I was the deputy principal since 1992,” Maselesele adds.

CSItshivhase insideClassrooms are in dire need of new paint

The students

Lilimu Ndivho Tshifudi and Ndou Ntsundeni Mukula, who are both in Grade 12, achieved 61 percent and 85 percent, respectively for maths in the first term. They also achieved 90 percent and 95 percent for science, respectively.

Lilimu says: “I’ve always had a passion for physical science. It is fun and you get to experiment and explore a lot of possibilities.” Yet she wants to study a B.Comm Accounting in 2014.

Ndou adds: “I chose maths and science because it has a wide range of possibilities for furthering your studies. It is about nature and interpretation of what’s happening, and I also like numbers.”

Maselesele says Ndou got 88 percent for Venda and English, while the rest of his subjects are in the 90s.

“I don’t think there’s such a thing as natural ability because without hard work it’s nothing,” Ndou explains. “I just try to work hard. I would like to study chemical engineering. I believe I will get distinctions for both maths and science but I would like to get 100 percent for both.”

He has applied for bursaries and hopes to win one, given his drive to work so hard. “I don’t know if my parents will be able to send me to ’varsity but I will still work hard.”

Lilimu also believes distinctions are possible, that but 100 percent will be pushing it.

CSItshivhase insideTshivhase’s achievements are based on discipline and hard work

Maths and science

Chinorinda Ammon, a Grade 12 maths and science teacher, says: “The community thinks mathematics is a difficult subject so pupils tend to believe that. Primary school teachers are also to blame for not giving pupils the proper background for them to excel in high school.”

He believes mathematics and science are the backbone of every country, and that is why in other countries maths and science teachers are paid extra. The South African government, he says, should also do something about this.

But it is not only up to the school, he adds. The community should also play an important role in the education system by attending meetings. “It is very rare in this school to not get support from the parents; that’s why we have very good marks … The parents trust the principal, the principal trusts the teachers and that’s why we get very good marks.”

It is rare, Ammon says, to find a pupil passes mathematics and fails any other subject. Maths and physical science are the mother of all subjects “that is why when you get to tertiary, you have many choices if you’ve done them”.

Ammon became a maths and science teacher because he has always liked numbers. “I couldn’t go to university when I finished Grade 12 in 1986 but the Zimbabwean government had a programme to take those who were good in maths and science to Cuba in 1991, and I took the opportunity.

“It was the only way I could further my education – go out the country and get a way of earning a living. It’s been 17 years since I started teaching but I still spend most of my time here with my pupils because it’s all about them. I got here in 2008.”

The matric maths pass in 2010 was 65 percent; in 2011, it was 58 percent; and, in 2012 it was 60 percent. “We’ve never gone further down than 50 percent in maths,” Ammon says. In 2012, 14 pupils got distinctions in maths.

CSItshivhase insideThe IDC is helping Tshivhase score even higher results

The school’s needs

Maselesele says: “We need a laboratory, as this will make sure we get better science results. Internet connectivity could also be good for pupils so they can discover how some of these problems are solved.”

They school has been doing well without any help, so with the IDC’s help “we can do wonders”. “We need proper classes, a computer lab, a library … I’m telling you we can do better.”

Business people in the community also try to give back, such as Patrick Makheche, who donates a laptop to the best student in Grade 12 every year. “We also have a shop owner who donates food for school events like matric dances and farewell events. He made a commitment last year to also give money to the top learners in all grades every end of year,” the principal says.

A R500 000 sponsorship was also forthcoming from Old Mutual for a laboratory. “We still have to consult the IDC to see how we can incorporate this sponsorship into the one with them.”

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