Top school determined to correct country’s critical skills shortages

2011-04-02 15:53

Years of blood, sweat and tears have paid off for one of Limpopo’s poorest schools.

Dendron High School in Mogwadi, one of the country’s top maths and science schools, is ­almost ready to start using its state-of-the-art laboratories, an administration building, offices and 12 additional classrooms – all gifts from the education department as reward for its achievements.

Principal Moloko Matsapola says the new facilities will make learning and teaching more effective at the school.Located in an impoverished ­area and with predominantly poor pupils, the modest school 60km north-west of Polokwane has surprised many with its achievements since it opened in 1999.

The first matric exams were written in 2003 by 12 learners. They all passed. The school has had a 100% matric pass rate every year since then except for 2008, forced its way into the top five schools in Limpopo for eight years running and made it into the elite league of 10 top maths and science schools in the country in 2009.

The school produced Limpopo’s best learner in last year’s matric exams, Sandra Tsakane Ngoepe.Matsapola says: “In a few years time we will have a lot of medical practitioners, more engineers and some actuarial scientists because we have very competent learners.”

The school has seen enrolment increase from 126 learners in 2003 to more than 1 000 this year.

But the achievements have not come easily. It takes discipline, hard work and commitment.

Grade 11 and 12 pupils can work for up to 17 hours a day. And all learners have to choose mathematics as a subject – maths literacy is not an option.

This is because it motivates learners to work harder and qualify for bursaries, Matsapola says.

The syllabus is completed at the end of May, Matsapola adds, ­followed by “writing, writing and writing” of tests, using previous examination question papers in a simulated exam atmosphere. “A soccer player cannot prepare for a match by playing tennis.

We give them question papers, which they sit one by one. We invigilate properly, we mark, prepare schedules and report to parents so they can see who is improving,” he said.

Limpopo education department spokesperson Pat Kgomo says they rewarded Dendron with additional resources because of its commitment to excellence.

“We speeded up the building of the process to build the laboratory and offices because Dendron ­continues to give us good results. They were under pressure because of a shortage of facilities and we want to ensure they move into the new classrooms in the new year,” Kgomo said.

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