Help Masi High improve

Dr Lutz van Dijk, founding co-director of the HOKISA Children’s Home in Masiphumelele

Masiphumelele High was once the pride of the Masiphumelele community and the whole valley. The matric pass rate was, with 84 percent, among the top schools in the Western Cape.

Due to the protests in Masiphumelele since September 2015 and gang-related crime at the school itself, which left one 17-year-old pupil dead in 2016, the pass rate has dropped to 48 percent in 2016, the second lowest in the province.

During the violence in 2016, the principal, Nelson Mafrika, was attacked, and had to leave the school.

It is mainly thanks to Metro South Education Circuit Manager, Thandi Jafta, and a number of concerned parents and teachers, that after a careful preparation on Monday January 16, a meeting could be held at the school which was attended by more than 800 parents, the complete School Governing Body (SGB) and some community leaders.

In this meeting, Ms Jafta spoke passionately about how a new future for almost 1 200 learners can be created – and how much the support of all parties is needed. She said: “Now Masi High is downgraded by the department to an ‘underperforming school’. Can we change this? We must change it. Let us not rest until Masi High is back from 48 to 84 percent.”

It means a turnaround campaign to change the matric pass rate from 48 percent to 84 percent – and to have again quality education for the better future for all learners at Masiphumelele.

Not only the SGB, but also several individual parents voiced their support for all efforts in this direction. Ms Jafta committed herself to monitoring the progress in the coming months. And the best surprise of the day: She brought back Principal Mr Mafrika who received a minute long applause from all present. This warm welcome was echoed the next morning by all learners who were cheering for minutes.

Some efforts will just need a certain code of conduct and discipline. Some other efforts require extra funding, for example for extra lessons for those matriculants who failed but will receive a chance to rewrite if they only failed two subjects. Also some repairs on the premises need to be addressed urgently before winter.

More than 12 years ago I had the privilege of being among those parents and learners in Masiphumelele who worked with the Department of Education to get a high school for Masiphumelele.

This time I would like to encourage all neighbours of Masiphumelele to support these efforts to make Masiphumelele High a top achieving school again. It is for the future of the children, but at the end it is for the future of all who live in this valley – and want to do so in mutual respect and peace.

For more informa-tion regarding the Masiphumelele High School campaign “48 to 84”, please contact me, Dr Lutz van Dijk, at lutzvandijk@iafrica.com