Siyabonga Cele (20), originally from Ntshongweni in KwaZulu-Natal, was privileged enough to be among the top 30 pupils in the country.
The Bizimali High School, which is in Nkandla, learner achieved a whopping eight distinctions, including 100% for physical sciences.
Speaking to DRUM, the top achiever said that he originally started his school career at Ntshongweni Primary School then he went to study at Wyebank Secondary School and that is where he matriculated in 2017 and achieved a bachelor’s pass with two distinctions.
“I was not pleased with my results and I did not get any acceptance to any university and that is why I then decided to go back to Grade 11 and start afresh.
“I then decided to go repeat my Grade 11 in 2018 at Bizimali High School and it was a totally different environment to what I was used to as it is located in a deep rural area.”
Even though there was a lack of learning resources, water and proper infrastructure he was determined to start afresh, and he managed to pass Grade 11 with seven distinctions.
“I remember in 2018 we had to use candles to study with as there was no electricity and we would sometimes have to go fetch water at the nearest river.”
In 2019, the matriculant said they started receiving electricity and that made things a bit easier but the water challenge did not get any better. They also have no computer and science lab and are still using pit toilets.
“When we wrote our trial exams, we still had no water and up until the final exams we were fetching water from the river, but despite all those challenges our teachers continued to work tirelessly in preparing for the final examinations.”
Siyabonga elaborates on some of the challenges and his excitement of his journey ahead.
“Getting these excellent results was never easy because I encountered many challenges along the way, more especially because I come from a not-so-privileged background.
“We struggled a lot at home growing up, we all lived in a one room and it was the only house that the family had, my older sister passed her matric and could not go to university because there were no funds for her to do so.”
At a later stage Siyabonga’s sister eventually registered and went to university, if she needed money their dad would sell a goat so she could get through school and through it all she completed her qualification and helped support and uplift the family.
“So, with such a background I told myself that I also want to study hard so I can make my parents proud because they sacrificed a lot for me to be where we I am.
“It took commitment, hard work, discipline, patience and prayer to make it as one of the country's top matric achievers, and this year I plan on studying actuarial science at WITS University.”