'Harvard, here I come': consistency & planning pay off for KZN's top matriculant

23 February 2021 - 14:49 By Mluleki Mdletshe
KZN's top pupil, Colombe Cynthia Obono Eyono, with education MEC Kwazi Mshengu and premier Sihle Zikalala.
KZN's top pupil, Colombe Cynthia Obono Eyono, with education MEC Kwazi Mshengu and premier Sihle Zikalala.
Image: Mdu Mdletshe

KwaZulu-Natal’s top matriculant, Westville Girls' High School’s Colombe Cynthia Obono Eyono, can’t wait to start the next leg of her learning journey.

The 17-year-old from Pinetown has been accepted to study at Harvard University in Massachusetts this year. Cynthia passed with flying colours, acquiring  distinctions in all her subjects and is likely to study economics.

Speaking at an event to announce the matric results in Durban on Tuesday, Cynthia said she didn’t have a “recipe” for success, however she highly recommends keeping a “fresh and open mind”.

The top performing pupils in the province were:

1. Colombe Cynthia Obono Eyono (Westville Girls’ High)

2. Shaheen Govender (Westville Boys’ High)

3. Jordane Hannah Vartharajulu (Southlands Secondary School, Chatsworth)

4. Dipika Somaroo (Effingham Secondary School)

5. Sanam Maharaj (Greenbury Secondary School) and Hemal Niranjan Harkhu (Westville Boys’ High)

7. Vanam Ramessur (Umkomaas Secondary School) and Shreya Nair (Danville Girls’ High)

9. Kiarin Naidoo (Westville Boys’ High)

10. Akshar Kanaye (Greytown Secondary School) and Kiash Nadasen Baldeo (Seatides Combined School).

Some of the top achievers in KwaZulu-Natal with education MEC Kwazi Mshengu and premier Sihle Zikalalala
Some of the top achievers in KwaZulu-Natal with education MEC Kwazi Mshengu and premier Sihle Zikalalala
Image: Supplied

Cynthia said: “I rely on planning, consistency  and also looking after my mental health. The most important thing is to look after your mind. Not only intellectually but also your health and trying to maintain a relationship with God and my spirituality,” she said. “It hasn't really set in yet but I feel very overwhelmed and just grateful to have been chosen in a very competitive admission school. I am quite excited by what lies ahead,” she said.

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Cynthia, whose dad is an academic at the Durban University of Technology, says she appreciates education.

“My attitude towards school hasn't been just about marks. It has been loving learning and just wanting to know more and to explore. We can argue that school doesn't prioritise education but I just try to go above and beyond whatever I do to find it interesting or intellectually stimulating,” she added.

Also speaking at the event, provincial education MEC Kwazi Mshengu and KZN premier Sihle Zikalala congratulated the 2020 “class of steel”, which defied the odds to make it to this moment — rising beyond circumstances and excelling during a pandemic.

Before presenting the results, Mshengu paid tribute to the 253 teachers and 38 non- teaching staff who have lost their lives due to Covid-19 related illnesses.

“The 2020 NSC results are dedicated to our front-line soldiers who died with their boots on — those are our teachers and non-teaching employees who succumbed to the coronavirus complications,” said Mshengu.

Zikalala said the provincial government and the people of KZN were proud of the matric class of 2020.

“We are gathered here to congratulate and celebrate our learners in the class of 2020 who have made us so proud under very trying circumstances. The 2020 cohort of learners has been tested not only through exams and the usual tests but by the pandemic of unimaginable proportions in human living memory,” he said.

From a total of 183,276 candidates who sat for the examinations, 104,985 passed, making KwaZulu-Natal the province with the most successful candidates in 2020.

“We acknowledge all candidates who have passed and those who excelled by earning distinctions and the best available symbols. Your hard work has paid off and the future awaits you beyond the classroom of 2020,” said Mshengu.

Mshengu said the province enjoyed an upward trajectory for passing mathematics, having moved up to 51% from 47% the previous year.

“This is a good sign for a province like ours which has a desire to produce many learners with good results in mathematics,” said Mshengu.

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