Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has lauded poor schools for beating the odds and competing with affluent schools when it comes to matric results.
Motshekga, who was speaking at a ministerial breakfast with the 30 matric 2019 top achievers at Vodaworld in Midrand, said it was encouraging seeing schools serving the poor “coming to the party”.
The top achievers were flown in from across the country with their parents or guardians, ahead of the release of government Matric results later today.
She said: “We are beginning to see the signs that the bottom [performing schools] is shaking and every child is not left behind because that is our principle; we do not want any child to be left behind.”
She added that: “The schools at the bottom should go up so that we close the gap between the poor and the rich, and as a country we are able to benefit from all the talents of this country from every community.”
The top 30 achievers are those learners that have performed exceptionally well from the more than 700 000 learners who wrote the National Senior Certificate last year. Motshekga called them the “best of the best” and the “pride of the nation”.
She said it was also encouraging that some of the children come from rural areas.
Motshekga singled out Dendron Secondary School — in Bochum in Limpopo — and said for the ten years she has been minister, that school has always send a learner to be part of the top achievers. Trying to illustrate how rural the school is, Motshekga said she thought her driver didn’t know the directions when she went there, because the roads they were on were so bad and the trip was taking forever.
The minister said she thought to herself that there was no way that a school from that kind of an environment could produce “a gem” of a school where all its learners do mathematics, and it consistently delivers a 100% pass rate. “It is encouraging that many of them [schools] hold their own under very hard conditions.”
There are 12-million learners at more than 26 000 schools and Motshekga said that, with the calibre of learners at the schools, the country is not going to fail.
“We are watching you to take this country on a higher level. You are our national assets. We are celebrating you as the country’s assets which are going to take the country to a different level because you have really proven that you are on top.”
Speaking on the sidelines of the breakfast, Eastern Cape MEC for Education Fundile Gade, told the Mail & Guardian that an analysis of the 30 top achievers shows that 80% of them come from rural schools. He said the myth that it’s only former model-C schools that produce quality education is “dying”.
“For example, the top achiever here coming from the Eastern Cape is coming from Nyanga [in Engcobo] and not from a model-C school. Which begins to tell you that the diversification of education is beginning to show its face,” said Gade.
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for education Kwazi Mshengu, who also attended the breakfast, told the M&G that — given the work the province had done in preparing for the matric exams — he was confident about its performance.
“The interventions that we have put in place [meant that] we are quite confident that we have moved from the 76% that we got last year upward. In the manner in which we performed we sat our own target at our own pace so we are not in competition with anyone. We are running our own race,” said Mshengu.
The national pass rate will be announced tonight.