Sinenjongo makes great strides

Rabie director Colin Green at a sod-turning for a computer lab the company sponsored for the school about nine years ago.

What is now known as the Sinenjongo High School was started in 1993 by a concerned member of the community, Elda Mahlentle, in an informal settlement called Chuku town near the Milnerton stables.

In 1998 the school moved, with 16 teachers, to a site in Joe Slovo Park, Marconi Beam, and in May 2004 it became a public school with the primary and senior grades being separated into Marconi Beam Primary School and, Sinenjongo High School, the latter of which was housed in containers.

A decade ago, Rabie Property Group – developers of Century City — adopted Sinenjongo as the major beneficiary of its corporate social investment programme.

With a matric pass rate of 27% at the time and with around 600 pupils, it was one of 20 schools then considered at risk academically by the Department of Education.

Rabie initially funded a science laboratory and a second computer laboratory but realised early on that capital expenditure projects alone would not make a sustainable difference.

What was needed was to improve the standard of education and they funded additional maths and science teachers as well as programmes to improve the English proficiency of both teachers and pupils as pupils were being taught in Xhosa but examined in matric in English.

Over the years the matric pass rate shot up and for the past eight years or so has consistently been between 85% and 97%.

The container school had no facilities – no hall, no staff room, no grounds, no library.

Then this year, it moved to a new R47 million school 300m down the road from its original premises.

The new school comprises 33 classrooms, eight specialist classrooms, four science laboratories, ablution and storage facilities, an administration block, a computer room, school hall and media centre and a dedicated sports field. It has grown to more than 1 000 pupils.