Don't be chained by disabilities, says SA's top special needs learner

2018-01-05 06:43
Joshua Chetty from New Hope School in Gauteng. (Supplied)

Joshua Chetty from New Hope School in Gauteng. (Supplied)

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Johannesburg - The top achiever in the special needs learner category, Joshua Chetty, says that he hopes special needs learners will stop being chained by their disabilities and learn not to limit themselves.

Get your 2017 matric results here

"Never chain [yourself] to that wheelchair, or those crutches, or that walker. Whatever gear you use to get around, you are much more than that, you can [stand] up from any chair and…do anything you set your mind to, as long as your mind believes it, your legs or arms can do it," he said.

The effervescent learner was speaking at the announcement of the 2017 National Senior Certificate results by Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga in Johannesburg on Thursday. 

READ: National matric results pass rate is 75.1%

The New Hope School learner encouraged special needs learners to think big and believe that the sky is the limit; and not whatever they or society has told them the limit is.

Chetty was born with cerebral palsy and a form of diplegia which affects his muscles and joints, resulting in a paralysis that affects his legs.

He told News24 that his biggest challenge in 2016 was trying to get over the fact that he was disabled.

Challenging times

"There was a point where I thought, 'Well I am disabled, how am I going do this and that because of my disability?' There were times when I really struggled with physical challenges,” he said.

He said that he focused on excelling as he knew he had to get high marks to get a bursary. He said he started searching for bursaries from the beginning of last year.

Although he didn’t expect a distinction, he said winning the award had relieved a lot of pressure and nerves that he had felt during a time when he was doubting himself. 

"No I absolutely did not expect to win this award, I’ve never even heard about any of this before, so it's all so crazy… I was doubting myself before I got the news, asking: 'What if I did really bad, or what if all my marks just dropped?'"


Chetty said one of his biggest fears was disappointing anyone in his family as they had high expectations of him which made him put even more pressure on himself. 

"My parents are ecstatic, they can’t believe it, my mom actually held back tears. [My parents] are also proud of me, and they stood by me throughout it all, so they are as proud as can be," he said. 

Chetty intends on studying business or corporate communication at Varsity College where he has been preliminarily accepted pending a bursary and his final results.

"I am interested in the media and speaking to people, I would love to get into social media as I am passionate about it, and I am very techno savvy so I think I would enjoy it," he said.

Chetty’s message to this year’s matriculants is to start preparing early for exams and to never be afraid to ask questions.

"Work hard, never stop studying and learning even after you complete your matric. You can always teach your mind something new," he said.

A total of 76.5% of special needs learners passed their exams. 

Register with News24 to get your results as they become available, and if you're a 2017 matric pupil, you could also stand a chance to win R10 000 in cash. Simply tick the competition entry box on the sign-up page. To register, click here.

Read more on:    angie motshekga  |  matric 2017

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