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Against all odds: pupil who lost her mom in her matric year bags eight As

Amanda Zuma is just one example of pupils who excelled against the odds at an outstanding school in rural KZN

23 January 2022 - 17:20 By Mfundo Mkhize
Amanda Zuma, from Mconjwana High School near Howick in KZN, achieved eight distinctions despite losing her mother and grandfather over the past year.
INSPIRATIONAL Amanda Zuma, from Mconjwana High School near Howick in KZN, achieved eight distinctions despite losing her mother and grandfather over the past year.
Image: Rogan Ward

The death of her mother and grandfather in her matric year did not deter KwaZulu-Natal pupil Amanda Zuma from achieving eight distinctions in the National Senior Certificate exams.

Zuma, who attends Mconjwana High School near Howick, beat the odds to secure As in English, Zulu, Life Orientation, Mathematics, Accounting, Economics, Business Studies and Tourism.

Zuma, who hails from Mafakatini village, told Sunday Times Daily: “Though losing my mother and grandfather was a big blow to my wellbeing, I knew I had to pick myself up and overcome the grief. It was a terrible year. I am very surprised I fared well.”

She said with the support of her relatives and her teachers she was able to weather the storm.

“My teachers and my guardians were in constant contact, which made things easier. I am still in disbelief, as eight As were never on my radar,” said the delighted Zuma.

Zuma has set her sights on studying business science at the University of KwaZulu-Natal or the University of Cape Town.

“I have done my research and business science has won my heart. I would love to get into the world of insurance,” said Zuma.

IN NUMBERS:

99.1% - pass rate of Mconjwana High School.

188 - the number of pupils who secured bachelor passes.

Mpophomeni teenager Nhlakanipho Ngubane, also a pupil at Mconjwana, scored five As in Zulu, Maths, Physical Science, Agriculture, Life Science and Life Orientation.

He recounted how attending a science expo competition hosted by the Durban University of Technology had piqued his interest to follow a career path in the built environment.

“It was no-brainer that I would go into civil engineering. I was in grade 10 at the time and I am still sold on that career path,” said Ngubane.

The school’s other top performer, Samukelisiwe Francis from Howick-West, scored five As in Life Orientation, Maths Literacy, Tourism, History and Zulu and will study law at the University of Witwatersrand.

She said her career path was influenced by seeing the plight of people who are often not able to receive proper legal assistance. 

“I would like to make a difference,” said.

The trio credited their teachers for helping them navigate the Covid-19 pandemic and ensure that studying went on without glitches.

“All of our teachers were strict in ensuring that we observe Covid protocols in the midst of the intense studying programme,” said Ngubane.

His sentiments were echoed by classmates.

Mconjwana High School's top matric pupils Nhlakanipho Ngubane, Amanda Zuma and Samukelisiwe Francis.
CLASS ACT Mconjwana High School's top matric pupils Nhlakanipho Ngubane, Amanda Zuma and Samukelisiwe Francis.
Image: Rogan Ward

“We do a lot of studying here. I remember how hesitant I was coming into this rural school. Over the years we have stuck together like glue. Our teachers are our parents and we have a strong bond,” said Francis.

Ngubane added: “Teachers play a big role, even though they sometimes scold.”

The school, nestled in a rural village near Howick, has over the years established a formidable reputation for academic excellence.

Headmistress Sthembile Ngwane lauded the class of 2021 who recorded a pass rate of 99.1%, a slight dip from the 100% garnered by the class of 2020.

She said of 225 pupils, 188 had bagged bachelor passes and 28 achieved diplomas.

“The past year was tough.

As educators we had the mammoth task of helping learners catch up on lost time as they were the biggest casualties of compressed teaching time due to the lockdown.
Sthembile Ngwane, headmistress

“As educators, we had the mammoth task of helping learners catch up on lost time as they were the biggest casualties of compressed teaching time due to lockdown.”

She said night lessons and sharing teachers among neighbouring schools proved to be a winning formula.

She also cited the support from the governing body, staff and the community.

Last year the school was given a boost when a governing body member, together with a Good Samaritan, sponsored the construction of a multipurpose hall.

The school has also seen an influx of out-of-town pupils who come from as far as Johannesburg.

This, according to Ngwane, has prompted community members to build cottages that serve as pupil lodgings.

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