Sweet matric recipe

2012-01-07 16:59

Deep in the rural valleys of KwaZulu-Natal’s north-central region stands the largely unknown Mashesheleng village. Here, 48-year-old Linduyise Kubheka is fulfilling his dream.

Year after year, the principal of Phumulani High School sees pupils excel in their matric exams; and the string of awards on the school’s humble walls bears testimony to their success.

Still flushed with the success of this week’s matric results – the school received an 83% pass rate, with 22 university passes, and many A symbols in IsiZulu, Life Sciences and English – Kubheka says: “Excited parents are phoning me left and right from their homesteads where they are preparing feasts to celebrate their kids’ success.

“Many pupils didn’t expect to pass as they only enrolled at Phumulani High in Grade 10, coming from feeder schools far and wide. They had to have extra tuition every single night, day, weekend and public holidays for the last 12 weeks.

And I had to give the Grade 11s extra maths so that they enter Grade 12 in 2012 with a solid grounding.

“I hope for many maths dis-tinctions at the end of the year.”

Last year, in recognition of the school’s achievements, Kagiso Trust donated a science laboratory, a computer room and a library.

Kubheka has also received awards from the Presidency, the education department and in 2004 the department flew him to the US to visit various schools and observe their science curriculum and methodology.

How does he motivate 650 pupils to achieve their potential year after year?

“I love this village. I never want to leave it. To me, it is my whole world,” he answers shyly.

Born in nearby Mafihleni, the eldest of three sons of a domestic worker and a father who died when he was only seven years old, Kubheka was raised by his “loving grandmother Victoria” who remains his guiding force.

“I chose teaching, not knowing it was my calling, and grew to love it each and every day, more and more,” he says.

After obtaining a BA (Education) through Unisa, he taught high school maths for 20 years. Fourteen years ago, he was appointed school principal.

“The majority of students here walk about 5km to school, so with the parents’ support, I introduced a novel concept.”

He made it compulsory for all matriculants to live on the school premises from three months before the final exams. Each pupil had to bring their own bedding, and at night the classrooms became bedrooms.

“The teachers are so dedicated that they also stay here, and hold extra classes between 6pm and 10pm each night. Although they should go home on weekends, students often choose to stay over and study because they have to write tests on Mondays,” says the married father of three.

Kubheka acknowledges the generous support of parents and teachers. Somehow, usually with great sacrifice, parents contribute R300 each for their children’s meals, and take turns to cook.

Last year, he managed to save R15 000 from the parents’ contributions, hired a bus and took pupils on a trip to Durban, visiting five universities along the way. “Seeing the universities inspires children to go further...”

Many pupils from Phumulani High School have excelled:
» At least 15 have completed their degrees at the University of KwaZulu-Natal;

» Three received bursaries to study medicine in Cuba; and

» The school achieved a 93% matric pass rate, with seven maths distinctions, in the 2010 exams.

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