Beleaguered by drought, bankrupted by municipal dysfunction, bedevilled by high levels of poverty and bullied by threats of daily 14-hour Eskom blackouts, Makhanda’s outlier classrooms and lecture halls remain gratifyingly unbowed. The city — the Eastern Cape’s best-performing educational centre — had a "breakthrough" year in 2018, says Gadra Education director Ashley Westaway: in addition to the stellar results of its public university (Rhodes) and exclusive private schools (DSG, St Andrew’s and Kingswood), Makhanda’s public schools produced their best-ever matric results — well above the provincial average. The pass rate (78%), number of successful candidates (436), bachelor pass rate (43%) and number of bachelor passes (238) were all records. That excludes the 101 bachelor passes achieved by the country’s most successful "second-chance" school, the Gadra Matric School (GMS), which affords young people who have already written national senior certificate exams the opportunity to u...

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