IN PRAISE: Putuma principal Babalwa Mtumtum praises the parents of her pupils. Picture: Sithandiwe Velaphi
If as a teacher you want the full participation of rural-based parents in school affairs, you have to visit them and speak their language.
This is according to Putuma Junior Secondary School principal Babalwa Mtumtum.
Putuma is in the deep rural area of the impoverished Elliotdale community outside Mthatha. The school recently beat all schools across the country in the South African Schools Choral Eisteddfod (Sasce) competition in Randburg in July.
Although the school does not teach Afrikaans, its senior choir beat all other Afrikaans-speaking schools with a harmonious piece called “My Hartjie”.
And its intermediate-phase pupils, who can hardly speak English, beat all opponents at the national stage with a piece called “On My Own”.
The village school houses 1218 pupils from grades one to nine, with 39 teachers. It has eight classrooms.
Said Mtumtum: “Though most of the community surrounding Putuma are illiterate, the best way to work with them is to show respect even though I am educated. If you think you will park a car outside and call the parent to come out fearing to talk to them inside their huts, you are in a wrong place in Putuma,” warned Mtumtum, principal at the school for more than ten years.
“Parents here care about the education. They can sacrifice their livestock for their children’s education.
“They are hands-on in all matters of education ranging from governance, mural activities and material.”
School governing body chairperson Headman Ntoyaphi echoed the principal’s sentiments.
He said they had been involved with the school since the days classrooms were in rondavels.
“We were ashamed to see our beautiful teachers teaching in rondavels in which our goats sleep at night. But with their determination and our support, we managed to have at eight blocks built.
“This is not enough, we are still persuading government to build the school because it getting overcrowded,” said Ntoyaphi.