DD Mabuza school fights to keep its prestige

For the past five years, a poor school in Mpumalanga, has been a strong feature on the list of top national achievers for technical subjects, but its pass rate has been plunging.

DD Mabuza Comprehensive School, in the Ehlanzeni district, this year had two candidates who dominated in technical mathematics in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) results. They are Ennocent Mbimbili at No 1 and Siyabonga Vuma No 2.

In 2022, despite having one of the three top performing candidates in technical sciences in Brotas Nkomo, the school achieved its lowest pass rate since it made its debut on the national top achievers red carpet in 2019.

The school’s pass rate dropped in 2022 to 67.3% from 78.8% in 2021, 94.3% (2020), 98.1% (2019) and 100% in 2018.

Even when the Mpumalanga department of education celebrates its own top achieving schools, DD Mabuza is a spectator in its own province.

School principal Mbongeni Ngomane, who is also a mechanical technology teacher, told Sunday World this week that the school is working hard to ensure its national performance aligns with its school and provincial performance.

Ngomane said the school, which is named after former ANC deputy president David “DD” Mabuza, offers two streams; the maths and science stream, and the technical stream.

He said the pupils in the technical stream performed at a high level, with pass rates not lower than 90% in the subjects offered at the school because they did a lot of calculations across all subjects as part of the curriculum.

Their counterparts, however, who are studying maths, physics and life sciences, are not exposed to as many calculations. He said that is why there is now an intervention to encourage the pupils to work together so that there is collaboration and knowledge sharing across the two streams.

“We encourage our kids in the two streams to share knowledge. It would go a long way in helping the learners who are doing maths and science to also get used to calculations as our technical stream learners,” he said.

He said the teachers had also adopted pupils. “For example, as a mechanical technology teacher, I have adopted three pupils, two of whom are studying maths and physical science and are performing at 59% and below.

I match them with a pupil in the technical field who is performing at 70% and above as part of the study group.”


He said the school is also working with other schools in the area to assist with intervention classes for maths and physical science pupils.

Ngomane, who has been with the school since it opened its doors in 1999, said the same culture that is encouraged in the technical stream, which says it is possible to achieve 300/300 in an exam, is the same culture that is now shared across the school.

“Our pupils achieve 100% in the technical subjects; they know that it is doable.”

 He said the school’s pass rate target is 100%: “We are working to achieve that target; that is the target. Even when we get 90%, we all know that our real target is 100%,” he said.

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