‘I was bullied and called stupid’: Joburg matric on how he overcame dyslexia to bag six distinctions

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David Gosher worked harder than his classmates and put in lots of extra hours to obtain six distinctions in his final matric exam. (Photo: SUPPLIED)
David Gosher worked harder than his classmates and put in lots of extra hours to obtain six distinctions in his final matric exam. (Photo: SUPPLIED)

He was constantly teased about his learning disability but that didn’t stop this Gauteng teen from persevering and acing his final exams.

David Gosher from Rouxville, Johannesburg, recently made his family proud when he scored six distinctions.

“I’m over the moon,” the elated 18-year-old tells YOU. “It came as a big surprise to me – a happy surprise.”

Although he worked very hard, he never dreamt he’d do so well in his final exams.

The brainy student, from King David High School Linksfield, scored As in English, maths literacy, business studies, history, life orientation and dramatic arts.

“History is my favourite subject because I’ve always loved knowing about the past and why certain things happened – I like seeing the logical build-up to events,” he says.

READ MORE | ‘She wrote every paper through her suffering’: Mom opens up about daughter who died shortly before receiving her matric results

But what makes his achievement even more remarkable is that David has dyslexia, a learning disorder that affects his ability to read, spell and write.

“I struggled especially with reading; my comprehension skills took a lot of work to get them to where they needed to be. Spelling was a big one for me as well, but thankfully I got a spelling concession.

“I’ve always had the vocabulary and I knew what I wanted to say, but it was hard to put it into words and explain what was going on in my head,” David says.

Apart from coping with his learning disability, David also had to deal with being teased and picked on mercilessly.

“Unfortunately, kids can be cruel at times. I’d be called things like ‘retarded’, ‘special’ and ‘stupid’,” he recalls.

As a result, his self-confidence suffered.

“I felt very insecure. If you’re told things, you start to believe them. So I thought I was stupid, I’m not good enough, I can never succeed,” David says.

The 18-year-old intends on studying law at Wits when he returns from Israel. (Photo: SUPPLIED)

Eventually he realised that by doing well he’d be able to prove the bullies wrong. But to do this he had to work even harder than his classmates and put in lots of extra hours.

“During finals I’d start early in the morning.

“It was very intense, especially because I always found it hard to sit down and study for long periods of time, but I pushed through,” he says.

David says he found last year particularly challenging because of the switch to online learning as a result of the pandemic.

“I couldn’t really engage with the teachers and if there was something I was stuck on I couldn’t just put up my hand like in class.

“So, I’d have to personally message them after the video call meeting and be like ‘Please explain this to me again’,” he says.

READ MORE | ‘I did it, my boy!’ Cape Town mom finishes matric to honour her late son

But now looking back, he can see that all the effort was worth it – and his proud parents, Jody (50) and Wayne (53), couldn’t agree more.

“My parents were over the moon when I told them about my results. They didn’t put any pressure on me. They just wanted me to be happy and satisfied with the work I did,” David says.

He now plans on taking a gap year to tour Israel with youth programme, Limmud, where he’ll learn leadership skills and integrate with the culture.

David, who intends studying law at Wits when he returns, hopes his story will inspire students with learning disabilities to stay strong and push through.

“My advice would be for them to never give up,” he says. “They must never doubt themselves and most importantly they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for extra help – from teachers, therapists and parents.”

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