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The Manenberg School which is Top of the Class


Manenberg in Cape Town, South Africa, is infamous for its high crime rate, but it is now being associated with academic excellence, writes the BBC’s Mo Allie.

Looking from the outside at The Leadership College (TLC) with its basic structure and its small classrooms, surrounded by sandy waste ground, it is hard to imagine that this is the same school that has managed consistently to deliver top-class results since its inception seven years ago.

Yet last year the school achieved a 92% pass rate in South Africa’s national school-leaving examinations – far higher than the national average.

That performance is in stark contrast with a finding of the report by the Johannesburg-based Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE), which suggests large proportions of South Africa’s graduating students are “functionally illiterate and innumerate”.

The report found that South Africa – one of the continent’s richest countries – was performing worse than many far poorer African nations in terms of educating its children.

TLC is a private school, run by the 2 Oceans Education Foundation, which counts Yusuf Islam, the singer previously known as Cat Stevens, among its patrons.

Thanks to its government and charitable funding, the area’s academically gifted students can attend for free – even down to school excursions.

Many of TLC’s learners come from tough backgrounds, broken homes together with a variety of socio-economic problems that plague the townships in which they live.

In 2015, no child accepted to TLC came from a household which earned more than 8,000 rand ($640; £510) a month.

About 90% of the students are Muslim but the founders stress it is open to all races and denominations.