Parents left shocked by school's 0% pass rate
The arrival of a new principal who introduced early-morning and evening classes as well as extra lessons at an outside venue did not help matrics at the KwaZulu-Natal school which was implicated in a group copying scandal in 2014.
None of the 18 pupils who wrote matric exams at Mpikayizekanye Secondary School in rural KwaMbono, about 10km from Tugela Ferry, passed.
When Kuzwakushiwo Phungula was appointed principal in 2017 to replace Lungi Shange, who was accused by parents of being the mastermind behind the cheating scandal, he introduced 6am and 7pm classes for matrics. The 18 matrics were also taken for extra lesson in Dundee, about 80km from Tugela Ferry, but it was all in vain.
Phungula told the Sunday Times on Thursday he had been advised by local education circuit authorities not to speak to the media about the school's 0% pass rate. He referred queries to Umzinyathi district director Siphiwe Kheswa.
School governing body chairman Foster Ngubane also declined to comment.
A local community leader, who asked not to be named, said: "It's a big problem and we're very shocked … After the cheating scandal we have been trying to get better teachers. We had hoped with the arrival of the new principal that the school would turn a corner. As a community, we're concerned about this and we hope education officials will come up with a plan to help the school."
A former pupil, Zama Zondi, who failed matric in 2016, was also concerned. "I'm sad because we were hopeful after the arrival of the new principal and new staff, but it did not make a difference," said the 24-year-old, who ekes out a living by selling some goods in Tugela Ferry.
The Sunday Times has also established that an alleged assault incident against a teacher who was considered "too strict" resulted in a number of teachers leaving the school, leaving only four teachers behind.
Those who left were teachers for life sciences, geography, life orientation and English. Only the history, Zulu and maths literacy teachers remained.
In 2016, Mpikayizekanye achieved an 8.33% pass rate, up from 1.43% the previous year. In 2017 the pass rate was 13.16%. In 2014, the year it was accused of cheating, it got 43.56%. A total of 167 pupils were implicated in group copying.
Mpikayizekanye is one of nine schools in KwaZulu-Natal that had a 0% pass rate.
Provincial education spokesman Muzi Mahlambi said education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwana would meet all principals, district managers and circuit managers of the schools that got 0% to find out about their plans to turn the situation around, and why disciplinary action should not be taken.
"Most of the schools which achieved a 0% pass rate are nonviable schools, with few learners. That's why we … say we must merge nonviable schools with viable schools. But sometimes this is met with resistance from communities."
He described Mpikayizekanye as a "repeat offender" which had regressed despite a number of interventions by the department.