BHISHO is pulling out all the stops to reach the target of a 70% matric pass rate this year by spending half a million rands on a non-government initiative to drive the project.
Eastern Cape premier Noxolo Kiviet has pledged R500000 to support Ilima Revision Camps, a project set up by a team of government employees from various churches to assist thousands of matrics.
She made the announcement at an Ilima fundraising gala dinner held at East London's Osner Hotel on Friday.
But Ilima needs R6-million to cater for thousands of matrics to attend camps in 23 education districts across the province.
There are only 42 days left before the final exams.
"I can raise a half a million, but funeka isebenze okanye izinto zakubanzima [it will have to be used for something useful]. We will sit down as the Exco [executive council] so that we can contribute."
Kiviet said she would write a letter today to each government department to contribute.
"Education is not for the education department alone. We all need to invest in our children and especially in this project, because most children come from disadvantaged backgrounds," Kiviet said.
Education superintendent-general Mthunywa Ngonzo would also have to make funds available for the project.
Ngonzo said his department had already allocated millions of rands to improve results. Ilima was among the beneficiaries.
"We have divided the province into three clusters to focus on intensive revision to reach a 70% pass rate."
The allocation for each cluster includes:
ýR5.3-million for cluster A, centred on Maluti and Mount Fletcher;
ýR5.1-million for cluster B, centred in Cofimvaba and Butterworth; and
ýR5.5-million for cluster C, which includes Port Elizabeth.
Education MEC Mandla Makupula said there were still challenges facing the provincial education system, including the high drop-out rate of pupils.
In 2001, he said, 300000 pupils had entered the provincial education system, but only 70000 matric pupils were likely to exit the system this year.
"What happened to the others? We are only aware that about 22% dropped out in Grade 4 because one of the challenges is the introduction of English as the medium of instruction.
"Another big drop-out of pupils is recorded between grades 9 and 10 because of the introduction of specialised subjects like maths and accounting."
Makupula said various social ills also contributed to the drop- out rate.
"Initiatives such as Ilima help our pupils to focus on their studies during this time of the year and that we really appreciate," he said.
Pretoria University vice-chancellor Wiseman Nkuhlu said there were few such projects that reached rural children.
"I'm very [much] persuaded by this approach," Nkuhlu said.
"It is sustainable. It is a major breakthrough for communities to accept that it's not only the duty of government to ensure development."