Gauteng top achiever anxious about university life but encourages others not to feel limited by their background

19 January 2024 - 22:28
By Phathu Luvhengo
Gauteng MEC of education Matome Chiloane with Wandile Lungani Mkhwanazi who obtained a 100% pass in geography and physical science in the 2023 NSC exams.
Image: Supplied/GDE Gauteng MEC of education Matome Chiloane with Wandile Lungani Mkhwanazi who obtained a 100% pass in geography and physical science in the 2023 NSC exams.

Wandile Mkhwanazi travelled by train from the Johannesburg CBD to Orlando West in Soweto for a year in a quest to acquire a National Senior Certificate (NSC) that would enable him to pursue his dreams. 

Not knowing how he would fund his dream of studying further after matric, the 17-year-old believed working hard was his only option.  

This week it paid off as he was honoured as one of Gauteng's  top achievers.

The Orlando West Secondary School pupil received a 100% pass in geography and physical sciences. 

“I am going to study electrical engineering at the University of Witwatersrand. I received an email this morning [Friday] confirming that I have been accepted,” he told TimesLIVE. 

The teenager admitted he was anxious and did not know what lay ahead for him but believed God would help him.

He explained how he achieved his success. 

“In the morning I would arrive early before classes started and after school I would stay until late studying. I would take the last train back home,” he said. 

He started a study group with his friends.

“There were three of us. Saturdays and Sundays we went to school. Holidays we went to school, pushing the content.”

Mkhwanazi is one of the top 2023 matric achievers who will receive Gauteng City Region Academy (GCRA) bursaries to study at institutions of their choice. 

“I received a bursary from GCRA which will be finalised on Sunday. I had applied for five other bursaries but I was waiting for a response. However, I am going to take the GCRA one,” he said. 

Wandile was raised in a single-parent household and has two younger siblings. His mother is a supervisor at a grocery store in Johannesburg. 

He advised the matric class of 2024 not to look at their background as a stumbling block.

“Work hard, believe in yourself, anything is possible — and pray,” he said. 

On Friday Gauteng education MEC Matome Chiloane announced the class of 2023 in the province had achieved an 85.4% pass rate, which was a 1% improvement from the matric class of 2022.

The Gauteng department of education is one of the largest matric examination subsystems of the national system. We pride ourselves that Gauteng produces some of the highest overall pass rates and bachelor pass rates in the country,” he said. 

“The class of 2023 achieved a pass rate of 85.4%. This is a 0.95% improvement over the 2022 achievement of 84.4%. Congratulations to the class of 2023. Your hard work and resilience has been justly rewarded.

He said the class of 2023 had faced significant disruptions over the last three years, with more than half of teaching time lost in the grade 10 and grade 11 years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“These learners had to deal with a reduced exposure to face-to-face teaching and learning. A staggering number of 191,664 learners enrolled to sit for the NSC examinations in 2023.

“This is a decrease of 1,6% from the 194,720 enrolled candidates in 2022. Disaggregating the overall 2023 demographics, 132,570 are full-time candidates and 59,094 are part-time candidates. The full-time candidates include 7,197 candidates who have progressed from grade 11 in 2022 to grade 12 in 2023,” he said. 

Chiloane said it was important to note that 109,030 pupils passed in Gauteng compared to 113,006 in 2022. This represents 19% of the total number of pupils who passed nationally.

“This is slightly down from 2022. We remain convinced that we are on the right track and that we can do much better provincially. Gauteng is still the leading performing province by virtue of the size of the provincial system.

“The year 2023 marked an increased number of candidates that enrolled to sit for the NSC examinations. What is more important, perhaps, than the 85.4% pass rate for 2023, are the detailed indicators showing the increasing quality of the teaching and learning in our schools in the province,” he said.