By Somila Nesi
The main aim of this feature plan is to distinguish between urban and township schools based on their educational system, how apartheid has played a role in the way the schools operate and how the availability of learning resources can play a part in the performance of the learners especially when it comes to the pass rate of Matric results.
Making a comparison in Grahamstown’s following schools, Victoria Girls High School which is situated in town and Nombulelo High School situated in the township areas. Conducting interviews and getting different views from Nombulelo High Schools principal Miss Hayes. She has worked at Victoria Girls High School for many years and was one of the perfect sources to get the information from as she has work experience from both schools.
Having an interview session with her over the phone, she has stated the following reasons for the distinction between the school. Firstly Victoria Girls High School is a more paying school, it pays fees and Nombulelo is a non-paying school. Secondly she stated that VGHS has a good governing body system which maintains the governing of the school. There’s also a difference in the way the teachers operate, VGHS teachers are more united working together in helping the learners at Nombulelo there is no unity.
Having another interview session with one of the educators from Victoria Girls High School, Mr Goodman. He was a choir conductor at Nombulelo High in the year 2013 and currently a teacher at VGHS. He has stated that Nombulelo is a disadvantaged school compared to Victoria Girls High which is an X model-C school, both schools are government schools but differ in their financial status as VGHS is a paying fee school and Nombulelo is not. Victoria Girls High School has good financial management, For example,the finances of the school are governed or managed by a bursar. Bursars play an important in implementing the best value, by making the most of school resources in the most sustainable and environmentally friendly manner, so that more is available for school’s core activities for example the VG music classroom is environmentally friendly by the fact that there’s an instrument in the class(piano), awards on top of it. The classroom is filled with pictures of the schools choir achievements. Nombulelo’s finances are controlled by the school, teachers can’t afford to attend courses due to insufficient funds however V.G.H.S. teachers attends many of skills development courses and team bulding. This is one of the reasons they are more united in working at the best interest of a learner. V.G.H.S. has highly qualified Coaches involved in competitive activities which shows that they have a good sports system and they value it. Nombulelo is limited to many activities due to insufficient funds for the school, they do not qualified coaches and there are few sporting activities. V.G.H.S has a high level of technology in classrooms such as the use of tablets and free Wifi. Nombulelo is unable to even afford handouts. Apartheid has played a role in both schools, Nombulelo was badly affected and VGHS benefited from apartheid for example, English is the dominant language and have benefited in the fact that they are able to speak English which is the language used for communication however he states that the learner use English for power by that he means that they think it makes them superior for example, they even speak it outside the school grounds and even at their homes. Colonialism has greatly affected and made black people abandon their culture and language, Mr Goodman even said that “language is the most important aspect of identity” it means that if we are so confident in speaking English such that we don’t speak our mother tongue then that means we are not proud of our identity. At Nombulelo High School the lack of English proficiency results in high level of failure especially when it comes to Matric pass rates, it would be much better if everything was instructed in their language but the lack of English proficiency does not mean that they are inferior or less of being intellectual.
Interviewing some of the learners- a Grade 12 learner says that there are a few students in their classes which makes it easier to educate and accommodate everyone. The learning is much more comfortable. They have a security system which makes them learn without being in fear.
Another learner said that when she speaks with a learner from a township school they tend to think that urban learners treat themselves as superior than them and that because they have technology sources their education system is a lot easier. When it comes to the school rules, the discipline measures taken are not that of corporal punishment, for example if one uses substance abuse, warning and disciplinary hearings are taken. There are chances of being suspended because discipline is greatly enforced. There academic enhancements where they can attend extra classes, they have students which are tutors in which they can get a better understanding if they have not understood from the teacher in class. There are sufficient staff members and when something urgent comes up which will make one of the teachers absent, they are always strategies available such as substitutes. They state that the expectations of their pass rates depends on the individual and whenever they need support they have a counselling available in their school which makes them cope better when facing challenges even the ones which exclude academics.
A past pupil from Nombulelo (2013-2015) claims that they had no technology resources. The teachers tried their best to make their learning effective because sometimes they had no textbooks. For security they depended on their teachers. There were only 4 sports activities which were netball, rugby, soccer and athletics.
Sinethemba Vamba who is also a past pupil (matriculated in 2015) he says that due to the poor learning resources they had, the academic learning was also poor. For example, they had a shortage of textbooks in which they had to share as students. It was also a challenge to even play sport because they had poor playgrounds that were not taken care of. Through all these challenges he survived by forming a small group with other individuals who had textbooks.