Principal with a plan

By Drum Digital
06 July 2010

IT’S a chilly Friday afternoon in the middle of the school holidays and the wind sweeps across the deserted schoolyard.

The classrooms are empty and dark – all except one, which is packed with young people, all in uniform, sitting side-by-side at the desks and paying rapt attention to the woman at the front of the room.

Their friends might be crowding fan parks and watching the World Cup on TV but the matrics of KwaDukathole Comprehensive School in Katlehong, east of Joburg, will have to catch up on the soccer scores when they get home.

“Holidays? What holidays?” says Puleng Maxiniva, the school’s principal and the driving force behind the matrics’ dedication. “The only meaningful holiday we have at this school is after the announcement of the matric results.”

In her green velvet top, matching trousers and stylish brown leather jacket, the 49-year-old looks more like a corporate boss than a principal – but then she’s the kind of lady who really means business.

Puleng took over the reigns of one of the schools with the poorest performance in Gauteng in April last year, determined to turn things around. Only 29 per cent of the school’s 2008 matrics had passed and she took it as a personal challenge to improve the situation.

She introduced Saturday and holiday classes to help the kids catch up and by the end of last year the pass rate had risen to 79 per cent.

This year she wants it to be better still – in fact, she won’t rest until every single matric passes.

“We have only a few weeks of teaching time left before finals and I still have seven learners getting marks of 20 per cent. I’ve got to turn that around if I want to get my goal of a 100 per cent pass rate,” she says.

Read the full article in the DRUM in 8 July 2010

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