Chris Hani Arts and Culture High School’s top matriculant said it came as a surprise to him that he had performed as well as he did in the 2016 matric exam.
Thando Mayongo, from Makhaza, managed six distinctions, with 94, 91, 90 percent passes for accounting, economics, and life orientation respectively.
Despite only having arrived in Khayelitsha three years ago, with only his mother’s income from doing char jobs to support him and his sister Thina, Thando proved that a lot of hard work, dedication and passion goes a very long way.
He was among the pupils who were recognised by Premier Helen Zille at a special awards ceremony held last week, and walked off with a merit certificate, a laptop and a R10 000 educational voucher for his hard work.
The recognition by the premier alone made him feel overwhelmed, he said, admitting that his studies had not been easy.
He remembered when he came to Cape Town in Grade 10, that education had not been one of his priorities, saying that he had considered having a herd of cattle, goats and sheep. “You know life in rural areas is not the same like urban life. Given my situation, I thought of having cows, goats and sheep. But the situation changed when the class (Grade 10) gave out awards to top students.
“One of the guys I know got a few good things and that changed me totally. I looked at education from another angle. I started loving books and my school work,” he said.
The 19-year-old said he has been accepted to study for a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth and has been awarded a bursary. In fact, he will be leaving for PE today, Thursday January 19. His mother and teachers, he said, supported him and he thanked them for his achievements.
He also told Vukani he felt obliged to pass so that he could be a good example to his young sister who is in Grade 11 this year.
“My situation is that, if I did not pass I would have had to get a job. But the reality is that I was not ready for work after matric.
“But had I failed, I would have had to go look for a job. It was hard, but with dedication and support I managed. I considered myself lucky because there were many people who supported me. My teachers had high hopes for me.
“We worked hard and had study camps, winter classes. In June we had only one week to rest. I am grateful to them (teachers). I could not disappoint them,” he said.
He added that the support from his family had been “amazing” and that his mother, “an amazing woman”, had been his pillar of strength. “I cannot explain her joy after she heard the news. She was over the moon. She is still very happy for me,” he said.
He encouraged other young people not to depend too much to others. He said poverty should not be an excuse for failure.
“We all have different stories to tell. I do not play the poverty line. I do not want people to feel sorry for me. I am of the belief that it does not matter whether one is rich or poor, you can still achieve your dreams,” he said.
Principal Madoda Mahlutshana spoke highly of Thando, describing him as modest, intelligent, a hard worker and a good example to others.
He said he was proud that he did so well.
“He is very intelligent. He loves accounting and maths. He is one of those boys that we relied on. We were not surprised at what he achieved. We would have been disappointed had he failed. But there was not a chance of that,” he said.
Mr Mahlutshana said the class of 2016 has done well and that of the 178 pupils who wrote the exam, 155 had passed and only 23 failed, resulting in the school achieving an 87 percent pass rate.
There were 53 Bachelor’s passes, 73 diploma passes and 32 higher certificate passes. “The challenge we have now is this year’s matric pupils. We have 205 matriculants. That shows that people have trust in us. We have been saying township schools are growing and doing well. We see no reason why people should send their children to schools in towns,” he said.
He said the likes of Thando have proved that one does not have to go outside of the townships to get quality or better education.