A PORT Elizabeth high school principal, who almost doubled his school's matric pass rate in one year, is among this year's The Herald GM Citizen of the Year finalists.
Elroy Bosman headed up a team at Booysen Park Senior Secondary School in the northern areas which – despite the school's dilapidated state, broken desks and windows – managed to increase the 42.8% matric pass rate of 2010 to 85.4% last year.
Bosman, who has taught for 37 years, said it was an honour to be nominated. "This is recognition for what I do – it is a great feeling to be a finalist," he said. "I never thought I would be recognised for my work. I enjoy what I do and will continue to do it ... for the love of it."
Bosman said he was jump-started into action after former Education MEC Mahlubandile Qwase asked him how he planned to turn around the school's consistently poor results.
He promised – without thinking – that the school would achieve a pass rate of 80% or higher. Bosman told Qwase he would quit and never return if the school under-performed again.
Together with his staff, he sat down and analysed what had been going wrong since 2007.
They visited every matriculant's home to assess their conditions, offered them counselling and worked six days a week giving extra lessons. They even provided meals for the pupils who attended extra classes at night.
"We had no secret to achieving the results. We stayed positive and worked out a plan that would benefit the school. It was a team effort.
"Every morning, I am motivated to take challenges and at least have achieved something at the end of every day," Bosman said.
The father of two, who has been married for 37 years, said he would use winning the title to do good.
"I would use it to get people into a familiar position to contribute and uplift the community. And spread the word: there is work to be done."
School deputy principal Joseph Skei described Bosman as a "dedicated, strict and caring principal".
"He guides and motivates us every day. We achieved last year's pass rate because of him. He deserves to be the citizen of the year, as a person, a principal and a community leader. I am so happy he is one of the finalists," Skei said.
Grade 12 pupil Candice Botha, 18, said: "He is a very good principal, who is very diligent and ambitious. He cares about the students. He is a very good role model and a father figure at the school."
The school's hard work was rewarded earlier this year when Coca-Cola Fortune offered bursaries for degrees or national diplomas to all 32 matriculants on condition they pass and were accepted to tertiary institutions.
The matrics attended a mid-year winter school camp, intent on improving on last year's pass rate.