The headmaster fixing our broken school system


Principal Nhlanhla Dube only asks of others what he expects of himself. When he brought forward the start of the school day to 6am, he knew it meant leaving home each morning at 3:30am to make the commute. His simultaneous choice to close books at 6pm meant he’d be home well after dark. Dube calculated the cost, and the prize of giving his matrics a future was well worth it.

Dube’s morning drive sends him from Pinetown to the foot of the Drakensburg mountains, where he runs Amangwane High School. As headmaster at a rural school, he faced the barrier of working with minimal funding and resources like textbooks and lab equipment. For his students to get over the line and into universities, they would have to work twice as hard. So Dube restructured their days to facilitate increased productivity. His method, known as 6-4-6, sees learners make an early start and work until the end of the regular school day at 2pm, before returning for an extra two-hour session from 4pm.

Dube made the call after accepting that help would not come from elsewhere. “The conditions of service in our department are no longer satisfactory,” he explains. “For us it came as a challenge: let us roll up our sleeves so that we improve the quality of learning in our school.” Inspired by their devoted leader, Dube’s students have responded with gusto. The results speak for themselves – the school’s matric pass rate has breached the 90 percent barrier since the programme’s inception in 2012. Hard work and dedication go a long way.