By the time Sashen Chase was in matric, he was struggling to walk or sit and suffered severe spinal pain that made it difficult to concentrate.
The former Norman Henshilwood High School pupil refused to allow the challenges of osteoporosis to stand in his way and on Tuesday he bagged the special ministerial award at the 2023 Western Cape National Senior Certificate (NSC) awards.
Chase was among more than 100 pupils from across the province honoured for their hard work during the matric exams, at the event held at Premier Alan Winde’s official residence, Leeuwenhof.
The 18-year-old was diagnosed with osteoporosis in Grade 10. He suffered epileptic fits, elevating the risk of fractures to his weakened bones, and his condition worsened last year.
He described his Grade 12 exam journey as “carrying two loads”, but despite this Chase obtained a Bachelor’s pass and bagged a distinction in life orientation.
“Being here today is a testimony to hard work and determination. It is the fruits of the time my teachers and family invested in me. This certificate is not just for me but all of the people who stood by me.
“The physical aspect was the main issue, average papers are about two to three hours, so time had to be extended, and for essay-writing papers a scribe would assist because I couldn’t write for long. This was overwhelming at times because I have always been an independent person,” said Chase.
Also honoured with a special award was Sanele Koeberg from Eden Technical High School. He first enrolled in matric in 2022 but was unable to continue schooling due to an infection resulting from his weakened immune system.
This is after he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia. However, determined to continue with his studies, he returned to matric in March 2023.
“I worked hard to catch up on any missed work. Also thanks to the school principal, teachers and my family for their support, I achieved a Bachelor’s pass,” he said.
Education MEC David Maynier said all 50 520 candidates who passed met the requirements to access higher education, with 26 182 candidates qualifying with a Bachelor’s pass to attend university.
“The past year was a tough one for our candidates and schools. After years of disrupted learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2023 we faced minibus taxi blockades and strikes, two major floods, and severe load shedding.
“Yet despite this, the Western Cape Class of 2023 increased the matric pass rate for the third year running, to 81.54%.
“Whenever I speak with our top achievers, and indeed with any of our matriculants, I can’t help but feel optimistic about the future that our matriculants will help us build. You are an exceptionally talented group of young people,” said Maynier.
Winde urged all award recipients to continue making a mark in society by being leaders who will solve challenges in energy, medicine, food, security, the environment and other sectors.