Rural girl beats the odds to become South Africa’s spelling bee champ

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From left to right Manganye Egnes (SGB Deputy Chairperson),Baloyi Hlulani (winner of R10 000 and trip to Kenya),Maluleke Shadrack (Circuit Manager) and Mkhabela Ntsako (Managing Director of Mzansi Spelling BEE ).

Benson Ntlemo

Magangeni Primary School in the Collins Chabane municipality in Limpopo says that the success of a 13-year-old who won a national competition shows that it is the epitome of educational excellence.

Hlulani Baloyi, 13, of Malamulele Township won the Mzansi Spelling Bee Competition.

Hlulani who is in grade 7 will fly South Africa’s flag at the continental level in Kenya in June and she will fly with a representative of the school and one of the parents.

Her win was celebrated at the school this week and in attendance was Malamulele central circuit manager Shadrack Maluleke representing the Limpopo department of education.

The chairman of the school governing body Malamulele Sombhane said Hlulani made history.

“It is the first time that I have heard of that a primary school child from Malamulele flies out of South Africa after winning a national competition,” said Sombhane.

He said her win was not an isolated case but was a reflection on the school itself.

“This means that in terms of quality education we are giving it to the community we deserve the limelight that comes with Hlulani’s win,” he said.

He praised Hlulani as a crack pupil.

“She has represented the school on many occasions but this win beats all of them,” he said saying that her win at the national event did not take them by surprise.

But he said although the school did the department of education proud, they had no classrooms.

“We have requested for classrooms for many years and were put on a priority list but we were not given any,” said Sombhane/

The school has 1,270 pupils in 14 permanent classrooms and 5 mobile classes.

The school also has 34 educators.

The principal Lucky Mashaba sits in a small office with many trophies.

The shy girl said she was not going to disappoint at the continental competition.

“I am going to do my best,” she said.

Her father is Lazarus Baloyi a well-known ward councillor in the Collins Chabane municipality.

“Although it did not come as a shock to me, credit my go to the school because a pupil may be intelligent but if the school is not organised she won’t excel,” said Baloyi.

Magangeni School started in 1973 with 86 learners.

It is one of the most popular schools in Malamulele and people hire taxis to take their children to the school from far off places.

“We turn away many pupils a year who want to be admitted at the school because there is not space,” said Mashaba.

The school excelled in the National teaching awards in 2015 and 2016.

Mashaba himself became second best in the province on two occasions when for school leadership.

One of the former teachers, Morris Chauke, represented Limpopo recently in the national awards.

One of the teachers, Esther Hlungwani, became second nationally in teaching mathematics.

“The school may be situated in the old section of the township but we attract pupils from everywhere and we have produced products who are pillars of society,” said Mashaba.

He says South Africa must appreciate the role the school the school plays and must start with recognising Hlulani’s achievement.

“She has become like Oscarine Masuluke who represented his people,” he said.

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