Herald Citizen of the Year happy to see his pupils pass matric.
His passion for education and giving poorer pupils the same opportunities as their more affluent former Model C counterparts bore fruit for The Herald GM Citizen of the Year’s matric beneficiaries.
The Rev Dr Simon Gqubule’s Ilitha Lemfundo Enrichment Centre’s 25 matriculants – many of whom had been attending the centre for extra revision classes since Grade 10 – all passed Grade 12.
A number of them – which he could not quantify until they finalise the results analysis on Saturday – are among the province’s 31 774 pupils who qualify to study for bachelor’s degrees and diplomas.
Some have already been accepted by universities in the province, including Grahamstown’s Rhodes University and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU).
A proud Gqubule attributed the centre’s success to what he has consistently stressed – teaching pupils in English to enable them to answer questions set in the language.
“The exam papers, textbooks and support material are all in English so there is no point in teaching pupils in Xhosa.
“Yes, going over it in the mother tongue can help explain a concept better, but they need to understand the subject matter and respond to it in English,” he said.
“A lot of the time a pupil will know the answer to the question, but lack the ability to articulate it in English and thus get marked down.”
A typical day at Ilitha sees pupils going through a compulsory reading session, which Gqubule said went a long way towards increasing pupils’ vocabulary, before their classes.
“We encourage pupils to read and if they have some time between classes they do some reading so that a culture is entrenched in them. Words come easier to people who read.”
Rhodes University graduate Gqubule has been running Ilitha from the old Sisonke Secondary School building in Uitenhage since 2007 and has had a good success rate. Registration for this year’s cohort is on Saturday from 8am till 1.20pm.
Gqubule said he was proud that the Uitenhage district, which came second in the province behind Cradock, increased its pass rate to 75.5% from 69.3%. “We must appreciate the increase, no matter how small it may have been provincially. It is at least a step in the right direction,” he said.
The Eastern Cape recorded an improved 65.4% last year.
Ilitha Lemfundo pupils are treated to a trip to Rhodes University each year, where they experience the orientation period and get a glimpse into tertiary institution life. “We find it helps get the pupils excited about life after matric because some may not see that far because of a number of reasons.
“So if they are hungry for it, they become very determined to have it,” he said.
Gqubule’s efforts for the youth of KwaNobuhle are driven by a desire to see them succeed, as his own children did.
– Zandile Mbabela