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Media Centre  |  Youth Today

Interview with the Head master of Ponelopele Oracle Secondary school

4 March 2015

By Zama Nkosi & Kuviwe Rakhoase

Firstly, I would like to congratulate you on your great progress concerning your post matric results. It is a job well done and they really stand out. You have put our community on the map and we are extremely proud of you and your learners.

Q: As the headmaster of Ponelopele secondary school what would you like to say to your post matriculants?

A: They have contently made us proud and 91% is a great pass although we are still aiming to get 100% pass rate. We are also saying to those that did not make it, it is not the end of the world and there is still a second chance given to every child in the country by the department of education through our district directors. If they can try again, work hard and remain focused because they are talented, there is a great possibility that they will make it finally.

Alternatively, they can go to FET colleges to skill themselves in many forms. There are great careers that they can establish out of that. Out of the ones that have made it, I must point out our top learner for 2014 was Queentress Sefala, a good diligentlearner who gave us four distinctions all in the nineties ratio. We started noticingthat she is a great girl when she first joined the school some years ago; we watched her progressing making inroads, making a mark and representing the school very well not only academically, but also in sports and debates. She is just a star learner and we say Halala Queentress!

Q: What is it that you did differently as the headmaster of Ponelopele Secondary School which other headmasters didnít do?

A: It is a tough one because I am not certain whether other principals are not doing what am doing,but the formula we use here is team work, honesty, loyalty, respect and that takes us to the next level; and also understanding that I am a teacher here to contribute to a black child in our community ensuring that the learner is effectively taught and consistently reviewing my methods and the basics when responding to class making sure I prepare properly for a learner in class.

We give our best to motivate and encourage by roping in other stakeholders coming into the game as motivational speakers. We get people coming in to coach, give career guidance and implementing all that as early as possible so that when a child is in grade 10,they begin to understand that I am now doing my first phase of matric so I must push hard. We also award our children through acknowledging their potential as well as their talent and I think that goes a long way.

We developed a recognition system to say thank you to the students for the good work they have done. We decided that since we have the financial means, we should conduct an award ceremony whereby a child leaves the school with a tablet, top range cell phone, book, and a dictionary. It means a lot to a child when presented with such gadgets in front of all their fellow students. Regardless of the monetary value of those items, what is more significant to the child is that he or she got it on this day in front of everybody else and it was handed to them personally by the principal.

Q: Have your matriculants always been cooperative when you introduced new ideas to them, were they always keen to learn? I heard they were cross nighting and going to camps, is it true?

A: Very true, it is a two year programme that the former deputy principal Mr Tau, who recently left the school kick started. The programme was aimed at attaining 100% pass rate, therefore we decided to have what we call cross nighting. Mr Tau pushed it very hard and had support from us all, while some children being children do not respond, others do not lose patience. We keep coaching and talking to them ensuring that they understand what we are doing. The majority of learners are responding well to this programme.

Q: The leaking of papers, what would you say to the teachers and students who leak papers?

A: It is quite an irresponsible behaviour that does not help; it does not make you a better learner and it would be very unfortunate if that were to happenparticularly if the teachers are involved, because it is very low and immoral and does not fit into the quality of education that south Africa wants to give to our children. It misrepresents the office of the MEC of Gauteng Mr Panyaza Lesufi, considering that he is a great man.

He has a vision separate from any other vision and I am certain that with him, we are going far thus we must not represent his office in any harmful form or way.

Q: In the year 2013 the top achiever student in matricin Gauteng was Praise Ndebele from Ponelopele Oracle Secondary school, how has the pressure been for the 2014 learners to uphold that standard?

A: The pressure was good because we used his success to inspire and motivate all the current students while with the others there was no need for motivation. When they came in, they said wanted outdo Praise Ndebeleís results. We could feel and sense that these children are determined to put the school on the map so it is not only Praise Ndebele who has made a mark on the school.

In the year 2010 we had three children that got a 100% pass rate in Mathematics, Maths Literacy and Physical Science. All three of these students along with others were invited early in the year 2011 to grace our assembly. One of them was a boy and was very shy but when he spoke to them the message that he gave pushed everybody. I invited them again for the June holidays and they tutored the students of 2011.

I was here with them when the school was running grade 12 classes withonly three teachers, these children and myselfpresent. I was just giving support where I had to. It is a great strategy that we must sustain, but Praise Ndebele made history that I personally thinkwill take years to be surpassed by any other learner in our school.

Q: What would you say to the staff members in your team?

A:They are doing the community proud, they are doing themselves proud, they are making the parents proud, they are doing themselves a great favour and because of that the school is losing teachers, time and again simply because we have established ourselves as a pool for leadership commitment so everybody and I think Ponelopele is growing.As longthe leader is getting out of the school going elsewhere, it will sell the idea and will affect the new methods and these methods will come back here.

In the end all schools will be influenced in a big way because of this, thus I am very proud of the staff I have here starting from the administration; the work they are doing is so enormous; the teachersí commitment; the level of engagement with their children; the love they show to their work; the passion also to their children and generally to the whole building, it is good and wonderful to work with such a team, they are just a godsend.

Thank you very much Mr Lesoe for granting us this interview.