A Cape Town principal is closing the chapter on a colourful teaching career at Lavender Hill High school where he has spent the last 38 years. Mr Faseeg Manie came to the school in 1981, at the start of a period which saw a rise in student protests and unrest during apartheid. Manie spent his early teaching days at Westridge high school in Mitchell’s Plain before he took up the post as the English head of department at Lavender Hill high. After moving up the ranks, he became principal in 2002.
On Friday, Mr Manie said his last goodbyes to teachers and learners as he started his retirement.
“It’s been a long and winding road. I’ve done my fair bit for the school and the Lavender Hill community. So it’s an ambivalent feeling,” he told VOC Breakfast Beat.
Lavender Hill high school is in the heart of a gang land and communities face the burden of poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, violence and other social issues. Manie says teachers have experienced first-hand the onslaught of the structural effects of poverty and the dysfunction of the community. However, his approach has been to take his learners out of the victimhood mentality and to create a shift toward a growth mindset.
“We should not engage in the blame-game. Schools like ours should be mindful of the socio-economic context we live in, but we should not be mired in the feelings of negativity and hopelessness or to blame others for our situation. Our team embarked on a cohesive campaign to improve the school’s infrastructure and academic results. Alhamdullilah, despite all the issues, our results over the last while has been among the best in southern suburbs.”
Despite its circumstances, the school has made great strides in improving the academic resources for its learners. It has three computer labs, a feeding scheme for 250 children, a library, a gym, sports fields with floodlights, a clubhouse, an extramural programme and a fence valued at R2.5 million. The school has experienced some incidents of vandalism but has put measures in place to counteract this. He believes extra-mural activities are vital to empower learners and keep youth away from the traps of street life.
Manie says the school has come a long way since he started, and he is proud of the school’s achievement.
“We used to have our assemblies in the quad. And when it rained, we couldn’t have an assembly. Because we didn’t have PA system, I had to talk on a little stand and address 1000 learners. Fast-forward to today, and we have two school halls. So the highlight for me is the massive improvement in the school infrastructure and our results. I feel we are a role-model for other schools.”
The passionate educator hopes the school’s administration will not stagnate and that the school will strive to improve itself on all levels.
“My message to the teachers is to persevere, work hard, and never give up. Despite what we see in the community at large, we can change the country one school at a time. If our school can lift itself up from its boot-straps, I’m sure other schools can do the same. That is how we can change South Africa for the better.”
Manie says he will be taking up a part-time job at UCT and will volunteer at two NGO’s to continue his community upliftment work. VOC