“Don’t fall pregnant,” is the advice Sphumelele Mthethwa’s parents gave her before she left for her first day of high school this morning. Sphumelele (13), who is enrolled at Maphutha Secondary School in Tembisa on the East Rand, was one of the pupils welcomed on the first day of school in Gauteng by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe today. “I was up at 6am. I was very excited, I couldn’t sleep,” she said. Motlanthe and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga visited three schools in the Midrand and Tembisa area this morning, starting at Oracle Ponelopele Secondary School, moving on to Maphutha Secondary School and ending at Eqinisweni Secondary School. Josy Mohohoma (14), a Grade 8 pupil at Oracle Ponelopele Secondary School, said her parents told her that high school was hard and that she should concentrate and “always listen to my teachers”. Her friend, Tsakane Baloyi (13), was told to ignore fellow pupils who might bully or tease her. Motlanthe encouraged students to focus on their education and warned against procrastination. “Never do tomorrow what you can do today. Begin today and utilise [all the time available to you] every day and ensure you prepare, you learn and absorb,” he said. https://soundcloud.com/city-press/kgalema-motlanthe-if-you-learn Ponelopele Secondary School also welcomed two exchange students from Germany. For six months, the school will host Grade 11 pupils Joschha Geczy and Laura Fricke. “To be honest, I didn’t expect that I would find a proper school system that would be as equipped as this school is. Here there are computers and smart boards – we don’t even have these in Germany,” said Geczy. Laura said in her short stay so far she had learned to appreciate the privileges and opportunities that were available to her in Germany. “The people aren’t really rich here and some are really poor. So I will learn to appreciate the [things] I have.” Down the street from Ponelopele Secondary School, Grade 8 pupil Thomas Mogashoa of Eqinisweni Secondary School said he was afraid of failing in high school but felt encouraged by Motlanthe and Motshekga’s words of encouragement. “I am going to fight through the challenges,” he said.