Meepong Junior Secondary School in Selibe Phikwe performed against all odds to obtain an impressive national second position in the 2017 Junior Certificate Examination (JCE) results realised this week by Botswana Examination Council.
Many prophets of doom predicted high rate of failures for many more years to come from all Selebi Phikwe Schools due to the poor economic situation caused by the closure of the BCL mine in 2016. But, against all odds the Meepong Junior Secondary School staff under the leadership of Dorcus Olebile refused to be intimidated and worked around the clock to outclass almost all the schools in Botswana with a 75.8 percent pass rate. They were only outperformed by except Orapa Junior Secondary who got first with a 77.1 percent pass rate.
The current group started in 2015 and were the first intake to write the JC examinations having completed a three year term after some of their colleagues left the school on transfers. The move left the school remaining with only 487 students instead of operating at full capacity with 582 students against a total of 47 teachers in a class that had 42 students.
Although Meepong has done well, they could not get a merit pass though, instead 5 students obtained A. In Botswana only two students got merit the whole country. This Tuesday, the school suspended classes and took to the streets bringing the usually quite mining town of Selibe Phikwe town to a celebratory mood. “We are done with excitement and we have to focus on the next group which is writing at the end of the year,” said the school head in an interview.
Speaking to BG News, Olebile said for her school to have obtained second position did not come as a surprise as they had confident that they will do well. She is first to admit that success does not come as a chance, but rather though planned hard work.
The elated Olebile states that they saw it coming as it was planned for. “I must say our planning started years back as our results were not impressive. We increased both the learning and teaching focus and supervision at the beginning of 2016, but a dark cloud fell over us as the BCL mine closed two or so months before the final examinations,” she said.
According to her the mine closure brought its own serious challenges that the school had to deal with on daily basis amongst them absenteeism, students falling ill, gross indiscipline and loss of parents. This affected the students so much that their parents had to get involved by physically bringing them to school and wait for them whilst seating for their Form 3 examinations. As a result of all this challenges, the school results dropped to 55 percent in 2016. “But that did not discourage us as the teaching staff, we decided to embark on a turn around strategy that will bring about good results.”
She said at the beginning of 2017 they decided to introspect “both individually and collectively to see how best we can operate from the same ground so that we lift the morale of all. Our argument is that as Meepong our catchment areas are students from both Phikwe Primary and Reuben Mpabapanga schools which are right in the heart of BCL and we receive the best from this schools, there is no good reason of not performing well if we have set our bearings correctly.” She futher noted that they still had to deal with other challenges key amongst them many transfers of students as some parents had to take their children, only to bring them back within the same school term citing various reasons. “We also put in place a structure specifically to follow up the many students who were left on their own subsequent to their parents losing their jobs.
As teachers we visited such students at their respective homes on basis not only to ensure that they do their homework, but as well as giving them counselling.”
Other Schools that finished on the top 10 from third positions are Bonnington (74.1), Nanogang (72.8), Mogobane (70.3), Tlogatloga (70.1), Makhubu (66.2), Phatsimo (64.2), Moselewapula (61.9) and Mannatlhoko (61.3)