Mt. Frere’s Kayaletu Makha proves learners can excel with good support

In partnership with Department of Basic Education (DBE), the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) is implementing a number of intervention programmes in the Libode and Mt Frere districts of the Eastern Cape province, the programmes are specifically designed to address challenges faced by poor performing schools, including curriculum coverage and learner welfare.

Initiatives introduced to address the pressing issue of learner welfare, included an NECT hosted
introductory workshop on Learner Development and Welfare at Ntlambela Junior Secondary School in Port St Johns  in 2015.  The workshop encouraged the active involvement of parents, guardians and the community in the children’s education. 

Socio‐economic challenges and physical disabilities discourage performance at school for many
learners in South Africa. The workshop addressed barriers affecting educational performance such as poverty, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, drug abuse and child‐headed households and the importance for schools to collaborate with the local police and the local government departments to address these issues.

The workshop was well‐attended by parents and teachers from surrounding schools.  Parents were encouraged to participate in the school activities, while teachers were also equipped to identify children with special needs and to report issues that require attention.

The importance of addressing learner welfare is best illustrated by the story of Kayaletu Makha, a
learner from Ngwekazi Senior Secondary in Mt. Frere. Makha  who cannot walk or stand on his own has missed many classes on account of his disability. However, the school principal of Ngwekazi, arranged accommodation for Kayaletu closer to the school and he received much encouragement and support from his teachers and fellow pupils. Makha is also supported by the NECT.

As a result  of this support Makha was able to make history for his school by achieving seven distinctions plus one level six in the National Senior Certificate examinations in 2015. He was also among the best performing learners in the province who were honoured by the MEC for Education, Mandla Makuphula.

Makha has also been awarded a bursary by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants to study BCom Accounting at Walter Sisulu University. Due to the efforts of the DBE, teachers, learners and the NECT, the Mt. Frere Education District has improved its performance from being last in 2014 to 13th place in the NSC results.

Among schools that performed well were several from the NECT’s Fresh Start School programme, with Arthur Ngunga Senior Secondary obtaining a 76.3% pass rate and Jojo, Lutateni, St. Georges and Manzamnyama Secondary Schools who obtained pass rates over 70%.

Learners and teachers from these schools mostly attributed their improvement to the interventions of the NECT through its subject specialists, providing evidence of the efficacy of the NET programmes and encouraging ongoing interventions aimed at improving learning outcomes in the two districts.

Among numerous other initiatives addressing these challenges, the NECT implemented a training
programme to ensure the curriculum is completely covered by teachers . English first additional language subject advisors from the DBE, along with maths and foundation phase specialists and change agents from the NECT have hosted training on curriculum planning and tracking curriculum coverage and have run a series of workshops at schools to orientate the teachers to use the planning and tracking tools provided.

The user‐friendly planning and tracking tools, which include a CAPS aligned learner‐activity book, will guide both teachers and the school management team in tracking the progress and the pace at which teachers need to work to cover the curriculum during the academic year.

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