A PATERSON high school which has been performing badly at maths since 2008 was given a much-needed boost with computer and science laboratories yesterday.
Eastern Cape Education Department MEC Mandla Makhuphula officially opened the computer and science laboratories, worth R250000 and donated to Sandisulwazi Secondary School by SA Breweries (SAB).
The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) centre for education research, technology and innovation (Certi) also helped the school renovate and equip a computer laboratory with 12 state-of-the-art computers, a printer and a scanner.
Certi works with numerous schools to find out what each individual one needs – and then helps it find ways to meet its needs. Sandisulwazi identified a maths teacher and computer labs as its most pressing need.
In 2008 the school had an 18% maths pass rate, in 2009 a 20% pass rate, in 2010 an 8% pass rate, and last year no one passed.
Former NMMU professor Flip Potgieter, who taught for 30 years, has been teaching maths at the school every Thursday since February.
"The school did not have a maths teacher after the one it had was deployed to another school at the beginning of the year," Potgieter said.
He said the pupils were hungry for education. "It is tough but we have to do it. It is so rewarding to teach the kids. Slowly there are some emerging who love maths. I love working with them.
"I leave DVDs and software that they can use when I am not at the school. Now that they have the equipment, they can work in groups and help each other. The school was very dysfunctional but now it's working."
Makhuphula said bad performance in maths and physics was a countrywide problem.
"The department is pushing to promote the killer subjects – maths, physics, geography, accounting and English. Any successful country must be strong in those subjects."
SAB executive director of corporate affairs and transformation Dr Vincent Maphai said education was the way forward.
"When I look at you [pupils] I see strength, power and intelligence. The best way to develop anybody is to give them education. The development is not about the computers, but what you can do with them. What you do with your education will turn this country around," he said.
NMMU project manager Viv England said the school had been on the brink of collapse but this had changed. "We will continue to assist with management and the running of the school."