Dedicated principal + parents = success

2010-11-14 14:17

Sales from the vegetable garden and buckets of donated 5c coins are a large part of Dendron Secondary School’s humble “school fund”.

There is no laboratory, and ­students are packed into inadequate classrooms.

Yet Dendron is a top performer. On Monday, this institution in the small Limpopo town of Mogwadi was named one of the top 10 ­science and maths schools in the country.

From Grade 11, learners attend extra classes that can last as late as 11pm. The police ensure their safety, and parents make sure their ­children attend.

This is the kind of dedication that has made Dendron a top ­performer in maths and science.

Ten public schools are recognised yearly by Anglo American’s board of directors and the ­basic ­education department. This year, Dendron made the grade – and won R150 000 – along with schools in Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria and East London.

It’s because of commitment to hard work and discipline that ­Dendron can rub shoulders with well-equipped schools where ­parents pay hefty fees, says principal Moloko Matsapola (48).

To qualify for the award, a school must show a matric pass rate of 60% in science and maths. Since its first matric class in 2003, ­Dendron has only missed a 100% matric pass rate once.

Distinctions also matter. Last year, 23 out of 147 matrics earned distinctions.

At Dendron, all learners have to take maths because Matsapola ­believes that maths is the subject that opens doors for young people.
“He is very dedicated, a perfectionist and very fond of children,” says Daphney Kubyana, chair of the school’s governing body.
Parents also play a major role in the school’s success – 90% attend meetings.

Dendron is a no-fees school and is dependent on the donations of parents to pay three extra teachers, two administrators and two ­members of support staff.

Two buckets full of 5c pieces and a garden from which vegetables are sold are a testament to their energy in keeping the school going.

There is no money for luxuries. The 977 learners are crammed into 15 classrooms (including six ­mobile units) provided by the Limpopo education department.

There are no administration buildings, and the principal and other staff have to share a ­“classroom office”.

But the principal’s motto is: Where there is a will, there is a way.

Matsapola tries to inspire the learners to attain qualifications ­after school. He grew up in the area and did garden work for pocket money when he was a learner. His mother used her domestic worker salary to help him qualify as a teacher.

Matsapola’s approach to education is for students to work in groups because he believes they can learn a lot from each other. And when they succeed, the school makes it a big deal.

He is very proud of former learners who have received degrees, such as one who is a medical doctor, three ­engineers and scores of others who are still studying. Photos of ­matrics who pass are framed and put up all over the school.

The school’s achievements have not escaped the notice of the Limpopo education department.

Tenders will be opened soon, says departmental spokesperson Pat Kgomo, to build 12 more classrooms, two laboratories, an ­administration building, and ­offices for the principal and heads of departments.

“The education department wants to help the school keep up its success,” says Kgomo.

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