FRANCISTOWN: Masunga Senior Secondary School (MSSS) has trumped more reputable schools to emerge victorious, even against daunting challenges posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) to score first position in the just released Botswana General Certificate Secondary Examination (BGCSE).
Masunga SSS attained position one nationally beating St Joseph College which has over the past years been reputed for its consistence in maintaining the top spot with good marks. COVID-19 arrived on the school calendars with the national lockdown leading to students, teaching and non-teaching staff spending their valuable time being quarantined and in self-isolation.
Masunga SSS was equally affected by the new normal and had to adhere to all the COVID-19 health protocols though with limited resources, but still managed to win against the odds of having to survive against coronavirus.
Speaking about how they hammered the finals against the pandemic, Masunga SSS school head Mmadube Letsholathebe said when coronavirus started spreading in Botswana they understood that the situation was going to disrupt their academic activities.
She further said that when they realised that the situation was getting out of control after the first national lockdown, they began to strategise.
They sat down with the relevant key stakeholders and started reviewing themselves through the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis. Letsholathebe added that after the SWOT analysis they focused on their biggest threat which was coronavirus pandemic.
She also said that in order to overcome the threat, they cancelled all the holiday schedules after the lockdown was lifted. “When the schools reopened after the lockdown, we made a deliberate move to cancel all the holidays such as Easters, Good Friday, Independent holidays and even the school vacations. All the Form 5s remained behind so that they can catch up with their studies.
All the teaching and non-teaching staff availed themselves and divided into teams according to their schedules.” Letsholathebe said before the advent of COVID-19, they had their own performance strategies geared at academic excellence which they continued using in line with the set health protocols through the help of her formidable team.
Letsholathebe said despite the challenges, the school rules and regulations remained intact so that their strategies can be implemented. When speaking about their preparedness after the national lockdown, she said they established a Safety Health and Environment (SHE) committee so that it can assist with fighting against the coronavirus.
She added that they made sure that all the markings were visible for social distancing purposes, all the water basins and taps were working properly and sanitising machines were up to
The first group would attend the lessons whilst others remained elsewhere so that we can keep an eye on them.” She said such practice gave them a chance to monitor the students in the school environment. It gave the students ample time to research, revise and seek clarity from their teachers, she noted.
According to the Masunga senior school head, they also faced other problems such as shortage of water, limited resources such as textbooks, slow internet and network provision. She said that even though it was tough, the teachers’ determination, commitment and perseverance made it a lot easier for them to deliver. Letsholathebe stated that in the face of COVID-19 , academic work was never affected due to the immense support they got from the donors, alumni community leaders and their strong Parent, Teacher Association (PTA).
She praised the school’s Adopt-a-School initiative, indicating that it has assisted their institution to gradually improve their results over the past five years. She said that the school attained position two in national 2019 BGCSE final examination results with a pass mark of 46.74% behind St Joseph’s College that retained the top spot with 48.72% (pass mark). She added in the 2020 BGCSE final examination results, they managed to take away St Joseph’s College’s shine with 43.45% (Grade C or better) pass mark against the Gaborone-based school’s 36.7%. Masunga attained 38.32%, 36.81%, 38.52%, 32.65%, 33.32% in 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014 respectively.
On the Adopt-a-School initiative, she explained that in 2015 one Tebogo Eric, who works for Botswana Oil, adopted the school and started sponsoring its prize-giving ceremony.
Letsholathebe said that unexpectedly last year, during the difficult times of COVID-19, Eric continued with the prize-giving sponsorship. She added that the sponsorship gradually motivated majority of the learners and teachers at the school to develop keen interest in their academic performance, ultimately helping the school to excel at last year’s final examinations. The elated school head expressed gratitude to all relevant stakeholders. She promised to work even harder so the school can coninue garnering good results.