Principal puts his all into matric pupils

Khanyi Ndabeni HERALD REPORTER
THE principal of a poverty-stricken high school in Port Elizabeth’s
Kwazakhele has spent more than R95000 of his own money this year buying
learning materials for his matric pupils.

Sakhisizwe High School principal Mzimkhulu Qunta is also sharing his
salary with three assistant teachers so that his pupils can get extra
help where they need it.

Qunta, one of the unsung heroes of the Eastern Cape education
fraternity, is hoping desperately that his dedication will pay off when
matric results are released.

Last year the school’s matric pass rate was a disappointing 19%, but
Qunta would love nothing better than to see the pass rate soar to the
record 91% in 2003.

“I came to Port Elizabeth to be the best teacher I could be and now
that I’m a principal I want to be the best principal,” Qunta said.

He has been head of Sakhisizwe for almost 12 years. In January, he
hired three assistant teachers who are originally from Zimbabwe, and
shares his salary with them.

He also assists with paying for the items needed for the school’s
feeding scheme as well as transporting all Grade 12 pupils who stay
after school to do revision.

He and the assistant teachers come to school almost every weekend to work on the garden and do general maintenance.

“I used to be a teacher in Natal. I came to Port Elizabeth as a
mathematics teacher in the early ’90s. When I came here, I noticed that
most teachers were concentrating on becoming graduates more than
teaching the children.

“I told my colleagues I wanted to be the best maths and science
teacher because when you are the best you can see it from the children
you are teaching. Their grades will be good.”

But Qunta admits that during the past few years the school has not
performed well in what he calls “the killer subjects” such as science,
accounting and maths.

Qunta could not explain why the school had performed so badly over
the past few years. But this year he was so desperate to improve the
pass rate that he hired three assistant teachers, whom he pays out of
his own pocket.

“I found the three teachers – Hardwell Mabahakanyi, Mafire Monyaka
and Jeffrey Monyaka – at the robots looking for part time job as
gardeners late last year. “Through our conversation I discovered they
were qualified teachers with a lot of skills that could benefit my
pupils.”

Although the school charges a paltry R10 a month in fees, only about
20% of parents pay. So Qunta has been sharing his salary with the three
assistant teachers since January.

“I have seen some improvement in most subjects, but I will wait for
the final exams to see how effective the extra teachers have been. The
three teachers helped in building the school’s library, which is named
after Judy Aljoe, a woman from England who not only donated books for
the school’s library but also gave R1500 towards the school’s feeding
scheme,” he said.

“We have 85 Grade 12 pupils. This year we drafted a timetable where
all the Grade 12 teachers have to stay in the afternoon every fortnight
to help the pupils.

“Sometimes I ask teachers from other schools to come in the evenings
and assist them in the subjects that really need attention.” He has also
bought matric learning materials including DVDs and CDs.

Qunta said he would only regret spending the money on the pupils if the school’s results were poor.

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