A tale of two schools

  Tears, fears and some light  
 in the darkness  

In the rural Eastern Cape, about 100 kilometres and an hour-and-a-half’s drive apart, are two schools, both categorised below quintile three on the school categorisation system56, which means they are located in extremely poor communities and learners do not have to pay school fees. Based on the matric pass rate alone, one of these schools is achieving fairly good learner outcomes, which are steadily improving each year; the other is technically failing. Mthatha journalist, Ziyanda Zweni, spent a week at each school, staying with an educator from each school for the week. Her mission was to observe and share what it’s like on a day-to-day basis in schools operating under difficult circumstances – especially as a teacher.

At one school she found a principal who is inspiring the teachers, learners and broader community to make lemonade out of lemons; at the other, a space that remains haunted by shadows of poor practices from the past – where the new principal and teachers are fighting a daily battle to turn the ship around.

Welcome to  Gwebityala Senior Secondary School   in Elliotdale and
 LM Malgas Secondary School  in Willowvale. We ask that you reserve your judgement and use your imagination to share in the experiences of the teachers and learners over the next few pages – they do it every day.


  1. South African schools are divided into quintiles based on the socioeconomic profile of the community in which they are located. Quintile 1 schools are located in the poorest communities, while Quintile 5 schools are in the wealthiest. Funding allocations differ across quintiles, and learners in Quintiles 1-3 do not have to pay any school fees.


If you do not create change, change will create you.