Despite an eventful year that saw teachers protesting on the streets to thugs hell-bent on vandalising the school; New Eisleben has seen a huge improvement to its matric pass rate. In 2015 only 47% of grade 12 learners from the school passed, with only 30 of them receiving a university entrance certificate, but in 2016 the pass rate jumped to 68.5%, with 65 learners gaining a university entrance document. On Monday, the school in Old Crossroads, honoured its best performing students with an award ceremony at the school assembly. According to English HOD-one of the organisers of the event-, Thulani Mpamba, the ceremony was to acknowledge the hard work put in by the learners. “As you may know that last year was a difficult year for us with the protest action and conflicts...we have managed to increase the pass rate. Today we just want to thank the learners, the teachers and the community for the positive results,” said Mpamba. At the beginning of 2016, the schools’ teaching staff picketed outside the gate asking for the school leadership to put more effort in their work. In July, the then principal resigned and the situation stabilised with extra classes being introduced in an effort to assist learners. “There were weekend and after-school classes which allowed learners to catch up and be able to compete well. We are proud of our learners and we are hoping that their good work will set a good example. We also want to thank the teachers, the parents and the School Governing Body which has remained partial and objective in its decisions,” she said. Of the top achieves three received A Symbols in Maths and Science.Sihle Ndamane, 17, is one of the students. Ndamane admitted that last year was challenging and revealed that the secret to his success was keeping the eye on the ball. “Yes, the year was tough with everything that happened but I kept to what I needed to do. I'm very happy that the hard work that I have put in has shown,” he said. Ndamane, said that he is currently looking for a higher education facility for a degree in environmental studies. He urged this year’s learners to focus. “If you give your attention to your books and studies, you will succeed,” he concluded. The school’s acting Principal Lindile Kamana said that he was very proud of the learners and the teachers who took the initiative to help learners. “When I arrived, we had a meeting to find a way forward and the teachers volunteered for the weekend classes, that the school day be extended by another hour...” He said that despite this being a huge improvement they still fell short of their target of 80% pass rate.“...So we will work hard to finally reach that target this year, we are grateful for the hard work of all involved,” he added.