'We were forced to adapt fast': maths boffin celebrates after roller-coaster year
Veren Naidoo from Rondebosch Boys' High School in the Western Cape is still in shock after discovering he was second in mathematics in the country.
“I wasn’t expecting this because 2020 was a roller-coaster, it was a challenge navigating being a matriculant. The lack of classroom education brought a different kind of life and we were forced to adapt fast,” he said.
Naidoo said his community was elated by the news. “Everyone is so excited for me. We had a lot of distractions but we made it. Our teachers went above and beyond to ensure our success,” he added.
He plans to pursue studies in chartered accounting.
Peace Phangisa from DD Mabuza Comprehensive School in Mpumalanga is one of the top achievers in technical mathematics. He too has big plans for his post-matric life.
“I want to study electrical engineering. I like working on things and solving problems. This is the most important achievement of my life yet. I look forward to the future.
“Our school did its best, we had enough time with the teachers. To be honest, they made it feel like it wasn’t a pandemic, everything was running smoothly for us. My family always supported me and allowed me to study. All my teachers contributed to the milestone, they did an excellent job. The whole community supported us,” Phangisa said.
Four students from Fred Norman Secondary School in Ennerdale, south of Johannesburg, also made their community proud.
LISTEN | Two-thirds of 2020 academic year was lost to Covid-19 school closures
Gontse Sefa achieved four distinctions, Cleodine van der Merwe got three and Ivarn Klein two distinctions. Talani Mlangeni also passed with flying colours and wished his mother had been there to see him do well.
“The one person who motivated me and pushed me to do better is not here to celebrate with me. My results are bittersweet but I plan to do my best and make her proud,” he said.
Mlangeni plans to study actuarial science.
Klein had a different story about his journey towards distinctions in mathematics and physical science, said his mother Priscilla.
“As his parents we recognised his potential to achieve much more than what he produced in his junior years. It is just that he did not recognise it. With lots of talk and shouting we promised him a repeat of a grade if he underperformed.
“We told him that if his best is 60% then we are fine with it, but if his best is 80% then we are not OK with 60%. He eventually produced an almost 60% aggregate in his grade 10 year-end exam, but we contacted the school and requested that he repeat grade 10 the following year,” she said.
Priscilla said this shocked many people. “He started to excel gradually and today's results are speaking for themselves. He will be studying chemical engineering, specialising in minerals processing at North West University in Potchefstroom,” she added.