BBC News, Johannesburg
Despite overcrowding and teacher shortages, South African students at the Katlehong Technical High School are determined to do well in their end-of-year examinations.
But last year, final year students at the school managed only a disappointing 16% pass rate, making Katlehong Technical High the worst-performing school in the country's financial heartland province of Gauteng.
It suffers from problems that are afflicting schools across the country - problems blamed in part on a reluctance to hire foreign teachers, including those who have fled the political crisis in neighbouring Zimbabwe.
Principal Mantwa Masiteng says her school's failure can be attributed to the shortage of specialised teachers.
"This is the only school in our area that is offering technical subjects," she said.
"Parents want their learners to be accommodated in this school so that they can be offered technical subjects.
"Now our shortage is on teachers that are offering the technical subjects, particularly civil engineering, graphic designing, mechanical technology and metal work," she said.
Katlehong Technical High is forced to accommodate around 50 children in one class.
This is three times the normal number of scholars who should be in a single classroom.
The challenges at Katlehong Technical High School are not unique.
Many schools across the country are facing similar problems.
In some rural areas children still learn under trees. Education officials say teachers leave this profession for greener pastures in the private sector.
But several kilometres from Katlehong in Johannesburg, another school has different challenges.
The Albert Street Methodist School is an institution that was established shortly after xenophobic violence in May, to help children of displaced families.
Tens of thousands of African immigrants were displaced when their homes were destroyed by angry South Africans who accused them of being behind high crime levels and for stealing their economic opportunities.
A group of Zimbabwean teachers founded the school with the help of the Central Methodist Church.
It has an abundance of qualified teachers, but they all work as volunteers.
Almost all of them are from neighbouring Zimbabwe, a country hit by political and economic crisis.
School headmaster Alpha Zhou says many Zimbabwean teachers are failing to be formally employed in South Africa.
"Lady teachers end up becoming housemaids while male teachers resort to construction work because of failing to find employment in South Africa," he says.
"Although the shortage of teachers here is very high, especially in science and mathematics, [the government] is very reluctant to take teachers especially from Zimbabwe."
But Gauteng Education Minister Angie Motshekga is defensive of her department.
"Our first preference is to give South Africans an opportunity to apply," she says.
"It's only when we are quite sure that we are unable to attract a South African to take that post that we process the papers [of a Zimbabwean teacher].
"So it's not the other way round where people just want to come and we accept them. We recruit them on the basis of what we need."
In the coming academic year, Gauteng province will be looking to fill posts for around 5,000 educators.
While this number sounds alarming, other provinces are experiencing far worst conditions in the education sector.
Education experts say unless the South African government tweaks some of its hiring policies - the future of many South African children remains uncertain.
7 months ago