The Cape Flats suburb of Delft has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the country, but matric pupils at one high school have risen above their circumstances to record an impressive 31.1% increase in their 2018 pass rate.
The applause and shouting at Masibambisane High School in Delft South was deafening as shocked pupils and parents celebrated after hearing the news on Friday morning.
"It is easy in a community like this to say we can’t do this, we are not able to do this, we are not clever enough," said Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schafer during a special visit.
"Well you are, you have proved it. You have passed. This year, with all your efforts you have put in, you have gone up to 79.1%," she said.
The school also doubled its bachelors passes.
Principal Khayalethu Boesman shared how happy and proud he was.
"To me, the results are about quality... we called you into the hall and spoke to you individually. [That] has worked and we thank you for responding positively to that," he said.
"Whatever we did last year didn't kill you," he said, eliciting giggles.
'Came to learn'
One of the secrets to the school's success was the provision of extra classes.
Schafer said: "Mr Boesman has told me you had extra classes… but you also came to the extra classes, you didn’t stay at home and watch TV or play on your phone. You came to learn. And that attitude in itself shows real commitment from you guys," she said.
"I want to say thank you to the parents because, without the parents being involved in their children’s education, they will not succeed. You can’t do it on your own. You don’t even have to help them study, just being there and supporting them, encouraging them [helps]."
There were lots of tears and hugs as pupils collected their results.
Boesman reminded those who had failed that it was not the end of the road and that they should keep trying.
The Western Cape placed third behind Gauteng and the Free State with a pass rate of 81.5%, a decline from 84.4% in 2017.
It did however have the best retention rate, near 63%, of students who had been enrolled in Grade 10 in 2016 and progressed to write matric this year.
The next best retention rate was Gauteng at 49%.