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Friday, 1 March, 2002

Western Cape schools win Most Improved School Awards

Statement by André Gaum, Western Cape Education Minister

Four Western Cape schools have won Most Improved Schools Awards for 2001 after a thorough selection process conducted in all provinces by the national Department of Education.

The schools are  Settlers High (two separate Mathematics and Science awards);  Mondale Secondary (Consistency Improvement Award);  Zwartberg High (Racial Integration Award); and  Paarl Primary Boys' School (Computer Enhanced Learning and Teaching Award).

The awards were presented at a banquet at the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria on Thursday night (28 February, 2002).

I congratulate these schools on these excellent achievements. They provide outstanding examples of what can be achieved when a school commits itself to excellence and to addressing the particular needs of our society today.

We have learned a lot from how these schools have managed to succeed, and we'll look at ways of passing these lessons on to other schools. We are looking for role models for our schools, and these three winners are certainly at the top of the list.

Settlers High was one of only two schools in the Western Cape that met all three criteria for the mathematics and science awards, namely, that they had to show improvement compared with the previous year in the:

  • Increase in the number of girls who participate and are successful in mathematics or physical science;
  • Increase in the overall pass rate in mathematics or physical science; and
  • Increase in the number of learners who participate and are successful in mathematics or physical science higher grade.

It is interesting to note that the racial profile of the learners and staff of Settlers has changed considerably in recent years. About 85% of the learners are now other than white, and nine of the 51 staff members are other than white.

Settlers provides an excellent example of a school that is meeting the needs of our changing society in many different ways.

Mondale Secondary won a Consistency of Improvement Award, for demonstrating sustained improvement in learner achievement in Grade 12 over a period of three years, 1999, 2000 and 2001.

Mondale serves a largely poor community and provides an excellent example of a school that can achieve despite its socio-economic circumstances. We are taking special note of schools such as Mondale, because they can provide leadership for other schools in similar circumstances.

Zwartberg High in Prince Albert won a Racial Integration Award for its success in creating a supportive and affirming environment for learning and teaching where children and teachers come from different racial, cultural, linguistic and socio-economic backgrounds.

The school must have demonstrated how these learners and teachers have learned to respect fellow South Africans who are different from them, and have accepted one another as humans and as South Africans.

Zwartberg High and the Western Cape Education Department formed a Community Forum in 1999 to facilitate the integration process. In 2000, 64 learners from the former House of Representatives primary school in Prince Albert were enrolled at Swartberg for the first time. About 60% of the learners at the high school are now other than white.

A teacher-parent body of 13 members supports the Governing Body and the school management team at the school. The body promotes policies and practices aimed at achieving inclusivity and participation of learners and parents in school activities.

Zwartberg and the people of Prince Albert have demonstrated how well people from different backgrounds can get on with each other, and how they can get on with the business of building the new South Africa. We can all draw inspiration from their example.

Paarl Primary Boys' School won a Computer Enhanced Learning and Teaching Award that acknowledges schools that are using technology effectively to improve teaching and learning.

The school has also shown that it can provide leadership in a field that one often presumes in the preserve of wealthier schools. The school does not serve a wealthy community. About 50% of the learners are other than white.

The criteria for the award included being able to demonstrate creative and innovative ways of acquiring computer technology; the frequency of learners' access to computers; the application of computers in teaching and learning; the use of computers in planning teaching and learning activities; and providing access to computers by local communities.

Issued by:
The Communications Directorate
Western Cape Education Department
Private Bag X9114
Cape Town 8000
Tel: (021) 467-2531
Fax: (021) 467-2363
Email: pattwell@pawc.wcape.gov.za
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