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High achieving matrics hailed as resilient after tough years at school due to Covid-19

High achieving matrics hailed as resilient after tough years at school due to Covid-19. File Picture: Nqobile Mbonambi/ Africa News Agency (ANA)

High achieving matrics hailed as resilient after tough years at school due to Covid-19. File Picture: Nqobile Mbonambi/ Africa News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 19, 2022


DURBAN - THE matric class of 2021, who sat for the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) National Senior Certificate exams, has received resounding praise from KwaZulu-Natal private school principals for their resilience and commitment.

The IEB said in a statement that the 2021 NSC pass rate was 98.39%, slightly higher than last year’s pass rate of 98.06%.

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KZN schools achieved excellent results and some had pupils on the Outstanding Achievements list. For pupils to make the list they must achieve within the top 5% in six or more subjects.

IEB chief executive Anne Oberholzer hailed the success of the pupils.

“As with an iceberg, the achievement we see in the class of 2021 hides the depth of the struggle and effort that underpins this success. These Grade 12 learners were the true victims of Covid-19. The class of 2021 has had to dig deep mentally and emotionally to find the strength to face the tremendous challenges of a radically changed teaching and learning environment of the last two years,” she said.

She added that for these pupils both their Grade 11 and Grade 12 years were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The journey for Grade 12 candidates of 2021 was somewhat different with school closures from as early as March 2020 and then sporadically throughout the year, continuing right through their Grade 12 year. They experienced disruptive change of an unprecedented nature within a relatively short space of time,” explained Oberholzer.

“Teaching in 2020 focused primarily on ensuring that Grade 12 learners were given as much attention as possible to ensure that they could succeed in their final examinations. Most Grade 11 learners in 2020 spent much less time at school and were essentially the test cases of the greatest online tuition experiment of our time. Despite its varied rate of success, one thing is certain – the use of technology in education is here to stay, as it should be.”

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She said the pupils had built tremendous resilience. “The class of 2021 had to find new ways to deal with the challenges they were served, and build the resilience, courage and persistence to overcome them. We cannot underestimate the impact of disappointments of missing out on key social events and the frustration of uncertainty that Covid-19 brought to almost every facet of their lives.

“On a far deeper level, for many the difficulties have been overwhelming and far more devastating – learners lost family members and parents to Covid19, parents and breadwinners lost their jobs and incomes due to a declining economy.

“The impact of such tragedy on dedication to studies cannot be under-estimated. There were many who were simply overcome by the enormity of the challenges and we must encourage and support these learners to pick up where they left off and continue with their education.

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“Finally, we must acknowledge the tremendous work of our teaching community and school management teams. We commend the candidates, their teachers and parents for a job extraordinarily well done,” said Oberholzer.

Carolyn Warwick, principal of Crawford International La Lucia, which had three pupils on the Outstanding Achievements list, agreed with Oberholzer.

“We were absolutely thrilled with the results of our 2021 matric group. The results are testimony to the commitment and hard work put in by the students, having been supported enthusiastically by both their parents and the teachers.

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“Although 2021 started off with two weeks of online learning due to Covid19, our students have been fortunate to be able to attend school every scheduled day thereafter. Together with the support of their parents, and the dedication of their teachers, our committed students dug deep to overcome the emotional and mental challenges of matric.”

Jonathan Manley, executive principal of St Mary’s Diocesan School for Girls, which had four pupils on the Outstanding Achievements list, said the past two years were the toughest any pupil could imagine.

“The unrest that arose during July last year added to the stress and uncertainty that was already unprecedented due to the pandemic. Although the matric year is often seen in isolation because of the results, the way this cohort has performed speaks to the character of the individuals at St Mary’s DSG.

“It is evidence of their resilience and the commitment demonstrated by their teachers and parents in supporting them during exceptionally difficult times.”

Joan Schmidt, principal of Maris Stella, which had three pupils on the Outstanding Achievements list, said the school’s matric class of 2021 had showed courage and fortitude in facing the challenges of the past two years. “They persevered and overcame producing outstanding results. We are particularly proud that all of our girls achieved a bachelor degree entry pass.”


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