Excellence in Primary School Leadership

WINNER
Sentsho Harry Rapoo
Bachana Makwena Primary School
North West

When Sentsho Rapoo joined Bachana Makwena Primary as its principal in 2006, he brought with him a good track record from his previous school.

This included having established an effective teaching and learning environment, set up a computer centre and grown a food garden to feed impoverished learners. 

Originally an RDP house, the school was bare, with not a scrap of furniture. “I engaged parents to organise chairs and mobilised businesses to support the school with resources,” he says.

“The department of agriculture installed a borehole and other equipment for agriculture and we planted a vegetable garden.”

The area has a high unemployment rate and a large number of HIV/Aids orphans. Rapoo deemed it necessary to make his learners’ health a priority and approached the University of Limpopo to conduct a health screening at his school.

“Learners were thoroughly assessed in terms of learning challenges and other health threats,” he says.

Rapoo also approached a number of companies for things such as security, washing machines, toilet paper and televisions at the school.

This infrastructure upgrade gave him a solid foundation for building morale at the school. Today, the school is rated Level 4 in quality assurance by the external school evaluation system, the only school in the district with that ranking.

“We set clearly defined targets that are measurable and we have a monitoring system in place,” says Rapoo. There are also incentives such as academic regalia for learners when they complete a grade.

His biggest challenge? “Everyone wants to bring their children to my school.” Rapoo has 700 learners under his wing.

SECOND PLACE
Ndwamato Ndou
Dzindzi Primary School
Limpopo

Ndwamato Ndou is a visionary who turned virtually nothing into something that would benefit an entire community.

When he arrived at Dzindzi Primary in 2010, it was after setting an impressive record of turning a school with no resources into a much-needed resource centre for the community.

His previous school operated from shacks without proper toilets and he managed to form a partnership with MTN to erect classrooms and flushing toilets.

At Dzindzi Primary, a much bigger school with 670 learners, Ndou turned a case of neglect into a thriving hub of activity for the learners and the community around the school in only two years.

“I did an analysis to try and find a way to empower the educators,” he says.

Ndou also noticed that the school had a borehole that was not being used at all. “I started by creating vegetable gardens, using the borehole as the water source to nourish the vegetables.”

This made food available to a number of learners, as well as to the predominantly poor community.

His efforts raised the pass rate from 95% to 98%. He also motivated parents to raise funds for establishing a computer centre that would be used by the learners during school hours and by adults after school for computer skills development. 

“Last year, 102 parents graduated,” says Ndou.

The centre is also used to generate income for the school by providing a photocopying service to the community. 

THIRD PLACE
Gladys Botlhale Mothobi
Kgalagatsane Primary School
North West

“I just had this irresistible passion to develop young South Africans to become better people.

I am so in love with the profession and the children that I even find myself going to school during school holidays,” says Glady Mothobi.

She says education is important because it enables people to grow and prepares them to cope with hardships in life.

Mothobi wishes more people would become teachers to address SA’s high level of illiteracy, particularly among young adults.

Her school offers classes from grade R to grade seven and has established a unit that focuses on learners with special educational needs.

As principal, she spends most of her time doing administrative work. Prior to becoming a principal, she taught numeracy, literacy and life skills to grade two learners.

Mothobi says leadership is all about being a mentor, a lifelong learner, exemplary, proactive, innovative and inclusive.

She believes the values, ethos, character and performance of a school are intimately linked to its leader.

She says a good leader puts sound and reliable systems in place so that when he or she is away things run normally. Poverty ranks as one of the challenges Mothobi’s school faces.

Learners receive meals from the school’s feeding scheme and she formed the Kgatelopele Women’s Forum to run a food garden to complement the scheme.

She works closely with the department of home affairs to help impoverished children apply for birth certificates and ID books so they can receive their social grants.

Mothobi has also formed networks with local businesses which now regularly donate food, toiletries and sanitary pads to the school.

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