By Pamela Shumba
PLUMTREE High School in Mangwe District, Matabeleland South Province is the country’s second worst school after recording a 33,33 percent pass rate, according to the November 2014 Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) Advanced Level results.
The school stands at position 500, a place above Oasis Group of Colleges, which anchors the table at position 501, the Zimsec A’Level schools’ performance list shows.
Although it recorded 100 percent pass rates in Ndebele, Literature in English and History, the school performed dismally in Maths, Chemistry, Biology, Economics, Geography and Accounts. The once top-level school charges $650 for boarders per term and $150 for day scholars.
Solusi Adventist Secondary School with a 55,1 percent pass rate, occupies position 487 and Kariyangwe Secondary School in Binga, Matabeleland North, which has a pass rate of 54,55 pass rate is in the bottom 20.
Other schools in that category are Early Bird Education Centre, Herentals College, Siabuwa Secondary School, Prince Edward, Melting Pot College, Kenzamba Secondary and Rimuka 2 High.
The list continues with Neruvanga Secondary, Budiriro B Mkoba College, Mt Carmel Secondary School, Ellis Robins, Rafingora, Temeraire, Dare Shongamiti and Phoenix College.
St Faith’s Secondary in Rusape is the best A’Level school in the country after producing a 100 percent pass rate.
Nyanga High is second followed by St Anthony’s High from Zaka, Masvingo, Sandringham Secondary, St Ignatius College, Hebron High, Shungu High, Zaka High, Chinorumba Secondary and Langham Secondary. All these schools recorded 100 percent pass rates and positions were determined by the number of candidates who sat for the exams.
The top 20 list also includes St Davids Bonda Secondary, Roosevelt Girls High, Chatikobo High, Mutare Girls High, Tugwane Secondary, Tongwe Secondary, Mutimwi High, Zezani, Anderson and Mhari High Schools, with all recording 100 percent pass rates.
Plumtree High School, whose standards have deteriorated over the years, is a non-selective government-run school, which has a history of excelling in sports.
It has an enrolment of 200 pupils who are mentored by 20 teachers.
Chronicle visited the school yesterday and saw the head, Sipho Khumalo, who declined to comment on the school’s performance. The District Education Officer could not be reached for comment.
Efforts to get a comment from the Matabeleland South Provincial Education Director, Tumisang Thabela, were also fruitless.
A teacher at the school who declined to be named said although Plumtree High has traditionally been a non-selective school, standards had drastically dropped due to various problems which include mismanagement of funds.
The problems, the teacher said, have resulted in a low enrolment of about 200 pupils, yet the school has the capacity to accommodate more than 500 pupils.
“The results are the worst ever because the school has never recorded less than 70 percent pass rate. In 2012 the pass rate was at 71 percent and in 2013 it was at 75 percent. Khumalo took over the school in September last year after Mathumulo Nare failed to run it. He was always clashing with pupils and parents over different issues,” said the teacher.
The teacher, however, said it was unfair to compare the school with selective schools, which only enrol pupils with the best Grade Seven results.
“Most of the pupils here are non-academic but excellent in sports. Only one of the three classes in every stream is for the academically gifted pupils while the other two are for those who have different sporting talents,” said the teacher.
The teacher said Khumalo, who was once a teacher at the school, was brought back to resuscitate the school.
“The school is financially struggling due to the low enrolment. The fees paid by the 200 pupils are not enough to pay the workers and resuscitate its projects, which include a 500-hectare farm. Some of the school hostels are closed because of the low enrolment.
“Most of the pupils are always travelling for sports tournaments and the school is struggling to sponsor the trips. The head has even sought permission to enrol girls but the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education shot down the idea,” said the teacher, adding that the school had reduced fees for day scholars in a bid to attract more pupils.
Pupils’ levies remain the school’s only source of revenue.
Plumtree Boys High was established in 1902 and some of the prominent people educated at the school are brothers, Henry and Victor Olonga, Ndabezinhle Mdlongwa (all sports stars) and former Rhodesian Army General Peter Walls. The Chronicle