Rietvale improves most

2017-01-11 06:01
Right: Rietvale High School in Ritchie was honoured as the most improved school in the pro­vince. Proudly holding the trophy that they received during the awards ceremony on Thursday (05/01) at the Tabernacle church hall is the school principal, Deon Schoeman. He is proud to have been part of leading the leaners in the right direction. Photos: Emile Hendricks

Right: Rietvale High School in Ritchie was honoured as the most improved school in the pro­vince. Proudly holding the trophy that they received during the awards ceremony on Thursday (05/01) at the Tabernacle church hall is the school principal, Deon Schoeman. He is proud to have been part of leading the leaners in the right direction. Photos: Emile Hendricks

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Rietvale High School was the toast of the day for showing the best pass rate improvement from 35,3% in 2015 to 94,1% in 2016.

That, according to the Northern Cape premier, Sylvia Lucas, and the community is proof that hard work really pays off if you put your mind to a goal.

The school was commended for its enormous achievement of being the best improved school in the province during the matric awards on Thursday (05/01) at the Tabernacle church hall.

Lucas sang praises on how the Northern Cape Department of Education strived to reduce the number of underperforming schools, which have recorded a pass rate below 60%, from 39 to 20 schools in 2016.

Congratulating the learners of the Rietvale High School, the premier said: “You can leave here today loud and proud of what you have achieved. It is simply amazing and once again, well done.”

Praises and applause were, how- ever, directed mostly to Operation Wanya Tsotsi by the community for turning the forever notorious school into a suitable school in 2016.

The news of the suspension of Operation Wanya Tsotsi was met with concern by the community and youth in Ritchie as to how they will survive onwards.

The school was known as the most violent premises and regarded as a crime hotspot after experiencing the formation of various gang groups and confrontations before the community approached the crime fighting movement to intervene.

According to the branch secretary of Operation Wanya Tsotsi in Ritchie, Shadrack Metsimetsi, in 2015 parents had nowhere else to go, as they had lost faith in the police.

Drug and alcohol abuse also played a role in the violent activities in the Richie community, which also led to acts of vandalism.

“Gangsters no longer feared the police as they would be arrested, taken to court, then return back home. Some would even come back more bitter and out for revenge,” explained Richard Kazibo out of concern.

He pointed out that in most cases the police would not pitch when called to scenes, as the callers would be told that there are no vans, or only arrive late.

Some of the learners, who reportedly chose not to seek safety in joining the gangs, later chose to drop out of school in fear for their lives.

The safety issues also led to most of the teachers resigning.

According to Metsimetsi, Operation Wanya Tsotsi started their intervention measures within the school in 2016 when the members held motivational talks with the learners and teachers on the first day of school.

Gangsterism played such a big role in Ritchie that members of the community felt threatened to such an extent that they were afraid to walk the streets at night.

A notorious tavern, Easy Corner Tavern, was identified as a hotbed of drunken violence.

A further agreement was reached when the crime fighters committed to guaranteeing the safety of the learners and showing visibility at the school.

Metsimesti assures the school that they will continue to ensure peace at the school, as Wanya Tsotsi is a community-based crime fighting organisation.

The school principal of Rietvale High, Deon Schoeman, could not help expressing pride in the good performance due to unity in the small township of Ritchie.

He also directed his appreciation to professor Rothney Tshaka of Unisa, who hails from Ritchie.

“Professor Tshaka organised a career exhibition in April where he also invited other universities to participate. That motivated the learners a great deal, as they could see the world after matric in a different light, resulting in most of them pulling up their socks.

“Members of the School Governing Body also came on board and joined the departmental interventions by invigilating the study classes that were held after school to guarantee the learners’ safety,” said Schoeman.

According to the principal, this is the highest pass rate he experienced in his five year term.

“It really came as a big surprise to me, as I expected to achieve at least 80%,” he said.

He said that this good pass rate of 2016 is expected to be motivation enough for the class of 2017.

“We should not expect to return to being a poor performing school any longer. There is no turning back from here.

“If the class of 2016 could do it, we can still do it,” he said. “The learners must always remember that hard work pays off.”

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