KZN’s top matric achievers

2018-01-08 10:09
Top KZN matriculant Joanna Smith, from Danville Park Girls’ High, with her dad, Francis and mom, Sharon.

Top KZN matriculant Joanna Smith, from Danville Park Girls’ High, with her dad, Francis and mom, Sharon. (Tania Broughton)

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KwaZulu-Natal’s top matriculant for 2017, Danville Park Girls’ High’s Joanna Smith appeared a bit overwhelmed by all the fuss on Friday.

But she should be used to being in the spotlight. Her proud dad Francis Smith said she has come first in class every year since she first started doing “proper exams” in Grade 4.

Asked where she gets her brains from, Smith and his wife, Sharon, shrugged: “That’s a mystery!”

Eighteen-year-old Smith scooped four awards at yesterday’s ceremony after also being named the top pupil in the district (Umlazi), and one of the top pupils in maths and science in the province.

She had just flown in from Johannesburg where, at the national matric awards ceremony, she was awarded third place in South Africa in the quintal five school category.

She will now be heading to Stellenbosch University to study actuarial science.

In her speech, Smith said good marks were all about consistency, hard work and time management. “Well done to all the teachers and the parents. And well done to the Class of 2017,” she said.

Carter High achiever plans to be a civil engineer

Carter High school matriculant, Kiara Singh, who got seven distinctions, enjoyed a belated celebration of her top achievement with her mom Lekha Chirkoot on Friday.

Chirkoot told Weekend Witness she had felt “very bad” when she realised she had not checked her cellphone messages on Thursday and missed the newspaper’s calls informing her daughter that she was among the City’s top achievers.

“She worked consistently hard from primary school and deserves this moment,” said her proud mom.

Kiara, who plans to study civil engineering at UKZN’s Howard College campus, was “delighted” by her results. “I want to thank my family, teachers and school,” she said.

Kiara said being a developing country South Africa has issues regarding infrastructure and she would like to be part of improving that.

“In the short term I aspire to getting my degree and I would also like to contribute to the empowerment of the youth and women of this country,” she added. 

Lekha Chirkoot hugs her daughter Kiara Singh from Carter High School who got seven distinctions in her matric exams.

Local lad’s dedication pays off

Local lad, Siphesihle Dladla (18) of Mconjwana High School near Mpophomeni, was awarded for coming in at sixth place in the top learners against adversity category. Dladla bagged seven distinctions and is the top pupil at his school. ‘I was expecting good marks but I didn't think they'll be this good. My advice to other learners is to work hard and stay focused,’ he said. Dladla, who plans to study actuarial science, added that his goal was to graduate and take care of his family.

Staying positive helps Port Shepstone school achiever beat the odds

“If you see yourself failing in a situation, you will fail. The solution is to always stay positive.”

These are the words of wisdom imparted by Sphamandla Zondi (16), who came fifth in the top “learners against adversity” category.

Not only that, but the bright pupil from Sister Joan’s High School in Port Shepstone performed the best in physical science in the Ugu District.
He was among the best performing pupils of 2017 who were acknowledged on Friday at the International Convention Centre where the latest matric results were released.

Sphamandla, who boasts seven distinctions, has been raised by a single mother who is a caregiver. He said that growing up was a struggle because of his mother’s unstable financial position.

“What you make of a situation is what you become,” he said.

“I don’t see my background as a disadvantage. It is a blessing in disguise because it is what drove me to where I am.”
Sphamandla added that the environment he grew up in has never affected him.

“I know what I want and am quite driven. The support I have gotten from my school and teachers has been amazing. The teachers had motivated me to work hard,” he said.

Having been accepted to study chemical engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Sphamandla is still holding out to get a bursary to fund his studies.

His dream is to qualify and build his mother a “nice house”.

He also wants to get involved in charity work to help disadvantaged people.

Sphamandla Zondi came fifth in the ‘learners against adversity’ category in the Ugu District. He is also the district’s best physical science pupil.

Prison inmate bags five distinctions

Prison inmate, Senzo Nyawose (24), has proved that anything is possible after bagging five distinctions while behind bars.

Nyawose, who is currently serving a 10 year sentence at the Durban Westville prison for attempted murder, said he would have never obtained his matriculation had he not been in prison. 

Nyawose was one of the KZN prison inmates who were honoured for their outstanding matric results at the National Senior Certificate and Adult Education and Training release of results event at the Durban ICC yon Friday. 

“I had already dropped out from school when I was arrested so in a way I am grateful for going to jail. This place has changed the way I see life and has made me a better person,” said Nyawose. 

Nyawose, from Umbilo in Durban, said he was inspired by another prisoner who had obtained seven distinctions. “I’ve always been smart so I thought why not do something worthwhile in prison that would benefit me when I get out of jail.”
Nyawose obtained distinctions in geography, life orientation, English, tourism and isiZulu. He said he was set to leave prison in September this year and has plans to pursue a career in criminology. 

“I saw a lot of loopholes on the legal aid’s part during my conviction and during my time in prison I’ve met many people who had been wrongfully convicted and sentenced for crimes they never committed so I would like to contribute in rectifying some of the loopholes in our legal system,” he said.

Nyawose went on to promise his family, who were  among the audience at Friday’s function, that he was a changed man.

Durban Westville prisoner Senzo Nyawose.

Award for New Prison’s top learner

A prisoner at Pietermaritzburg New Prison, Morris Gondwe (50), was given an award for being the top performing learner from Correctional Services for his adult education and training level four studies on Friday.

Gondwe, from Sweetwaters, was sentenced to life imprisonment for rape in 2016. He said being in prison gave him an opportunity he never had on the outside to study.

“I come from a disadvantaged background and I could never complete my studies but when I got to prison I learnt that there were classes and grabbed that opportunity with both hands,” he said.

Gondwe said he is set to write his matric exams.

“I’m really grateful for this opportunity but more thankful to Correctional Services and the teachers inside prison. This day would never be possible without them,” said Gondwe.

Mdumiseni Ngema, PMB New Prison’s Education and Training section head, said he was proud of Gondwe’s performance.

“The prison environment is not very conducive for learning but it’s always great to see some prisoners like Morris pushing against all odds and producing outstanding results,” he said.

Ngema said prison was “a place to rehabilitate prisoners to ensure that they are released back into their communities as changed people who are equipped to contribute to the society”.

PMB New Prison’s Education and Training section head Mdumiseni Ngema (left) and prisoner Morris Gondwe (50).


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  matric results

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