School of choice

2016-09-08 06:00

I REMEMBER the days when I used to attend secondary school in Tongaat.

Those days are etched in my memory as it made me into the person I am today, paving the foundation of my thought processes and giving me the drive to excel in all that I do.

Those were indeed the days to be treasured. Today I sit as a Professor at a tertiary institution at the same time supervising postgraduates up to PhD levels at three other institutions of higher learning.

All through my transition to my current position, I not once looked down on the small, once called “farm town”, of Tongaat. Many influential persons have sprouted out from the very roots that many now look down upon.

Some of the schools that produced these outstanding achievers such as doctors, engineers, professors, etc, amidst the current economic conditions, and restricted government support, are still aiming to achieve their mission and visions.

I pen this letter wearing two caps, one myself as an educator at tertiary level and two as a parent as I felt the need to address negative impacts of word of mouth that could scar an institution’s reputation.

On my arrival after a 13-year academic progression outside the province of KwaZulu-Natal, I was astounded by the declining state of the schooling system, not only in my former province, but throughout the country.

I made it my duty as a parent to become actively involved in the school that my child was to attend. At first, due to hearsay, the thought of placing my child at Buffelsdale Secondary was a big NO.

I then decided to enroll my daughter, being a high achiever in her primary school years, at another notably recognised secondary school not far from the area I reside.

The look on my daughter’s face after just two days at the school left my heart shattered.

Upon requesting the reasons for this look, she opened up and said: “Dad, the school is not user-friendly”. She further iterated that one has to be comfortable in the environment in order to study and achieve the most. I then asked her which school she wanted to be placed in, to which she responded, Buffelsdale Secondary, which took me by surprise.

Furthermore, she stated, knowing my initial attitude of the school, “Dad, it’s not the school that makes a good student, it’s the students themselves”.

Quite mature for a 13-year-old I must admit. I immediately enrolled her at Buffelsdale Secondary and at the same time undertook some research on the quality of teaching at the school. I was surprised to find out that the school has some of the best teachers around with appropriate qualifications, some of whom equals or even surpasses teachers of private institutions.

The appointed principal, Dr. Singh has dedicated and pledged to enhance the school’s academic outputs and at the same time promote other extramural activities.

This being the case and I being staunched for academic progression made myself available to assist in the school and became part of the governing body.

The school has a proven track record of taking the poorest performing students from primary school levels and bringing them to complete their matric with many attending tertiary institutions. This has a lot to do with the compassion and dedication of the teachers. What then can the very same school do with students who exit with a better pass mark from primary schools?

I personally know many of the alumni of Buffelsdale Secondary that have become recognised in their respective fields and call upon them to come forth and make the school which provided them with the foundation as to who they are today, to assist in the marketing as well as promote the achievements of Buffelsdale secondary.

Let us make a difference and grow better future leaders.

Prof Roger M. Coopoosamy

Current SGB Chairperson

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