DURBAN - THE cream of the crop in KwaZulu-Natal’s Matric class of 2021 have advised the new class of matrics to plan everything well ahead of time in order to achieve their best.
KZN’s best were speaking to the Daily News prior to the prestigious Top Matric Achievers Breakfast with Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga at the Sandton Hotel on Thursday morning.
Menzi High School's Mhlengi Shange was invited to the Minister of Education’s Matric announcement in Johannesburg. He got 7 distinctions, including mathematics, physical sciences and accounting.
Shange said his approach was to treat the entire year as a once-off final match, which means constantly working towards a favourable outcome.
“Our approach is different to other schools and grades. We open two weeks before the actual opening day which gives us ample time to prepare for the first term and get advice from our teachers. There was also the dynamic of having not finished the Grade 11 curriculum, which meant we needed to dedicate time to it.
“Another key tool was to focus on introducing the curriculum to myself in critical subjects, with a special effort on the ones I did not excel in. It was important for me to engage teachers on how to time- manage my subjects because at some point I was ignoring teachers as I knew my potential. So, I had to go back to working with them and giving myself time at school.”
His mother, Slindile Mtungwa, was beaming with pride over Mhlengi’s achievements.
“I barely shed a tear no matter the circumstances in my life, but today was such an overwhelming experience of appreciation and gratitude. Mhlengi has made me so proud, it is unexplainable. Never had I imagined that I would fly on a plane or meet a minister.”
She said Mhlengi was relentless, dedicating all seven days of the week to his schoolwork.
Shange will pursue a chemical engineering degree at the University of Cape Town.
Menzi High School principal Muntu Ntombela, said she was confident that Shange would fly their flag high.
“He got level 7As on most of his subjects which were 90% or more during the trials. He is good in mathematics, physical sciences, life sciences and accounting but I am certain that he got 7 distinctions.”
She said their trick of reducing the originally allocated time for the papers had previously assisted the pupils to beat the time and finish on time.
“With Covid-19 around, everything was difficult. We made it our priority to ensure that we finished teaching the syllabus before the trials started. We had pre-trials with them where they would write a three-hour paper in two hours. Teachers, pupils and parents played a huge role in ensuring our pupils were well prepared,” said Ntombela.
She said after trials they grouped pupils according to their performances and those who underperformed with level ones to three had one-on-one preparations with their teachers.
“This has worked for over 10 years. We have always produced a 100% pass rate - as a result three of our previous best students will be graduating from medical school this year,” she said.
National top achiever Mlungisi Mgwaba, 17, echoed Shange’s sentiments, urging the class of 2022 to “start as early as you can'' as the road ahead was long.
“After receiving my Grade 11 results, I prepared for the year 2021. I started by getting myself equipped with the curriculum, and simplifying the stuff I could with the little knowledge I had. I faced a lot of fear and doubt during the year but overcame it because of preparation.”
Phila Mbuyisa, 17, from Nhlalamanga High School, who obtained 8 distinctions, said the postponement in the start of the 2021 academic year gave him a bit of a challenge.
“I was ready to get on with the year in January, but when it was postponed to February, things got a bit tough. Luckily for me, I was planning things through before the dates for opening changed. Obviously, my approach may not work for someone else, but planning is the foundation for doing well in the matric year. I would like to advise the class of 2022 to start your work today.”
Mthandeni Tembe, principal at the school, said they were expecting Mbuyisa to pass exceptionally adding that he had changed the narrative about schools in rural areas.
Tembe said Mbuyisa was the district’s physical sciences and maths top pupil.
“This was a huge surprise and the biggest achievement for a school that is in the rural areas. He’s been one of our best pupils since Grade 8.”
He said it was through effective learning and dedicated teachers that one of their pupils came out top.
“The environment is not favourable for our pupils. They have no support base at home or around the community but they work so hard. We have no laboratory yet we managed to produce such a smart boy.”
In 2020, the Ugu (86.3%) and uMlazi (81.5%) districts led in the province with the most matric class of 2020 passes. This was a drop from 2019 where Ugu had 82 and uMlazi 80.9%.