Khulekani Simelane Picture: Sithunyelwe

Durban - Taxi driver Khulekani Simelane left his job and returned to the classroom to learn with pupils who are the same age as his children in order to pursue his dream of becoming a teacher.

Simelane, 41, of KwaNongoma, is one of KwaZulu-Natal’s oldest matriculants for the class of 2018.

Three years ago he went to his former school, Phumanyova High, and asked to be enrolled to finish his matric. The school’s principal, Zibuse Ncala, initially dismissed his request, thinking Simelane was joking.

But after intense discussions with his staff, Ncala decided to accept his request, even though it meant going against the education department’s policy of not admitting overage pupils.

“I was not going to be the one to deny him the opportunity to access education. He told me that he wanted to improve his life and that of his children by becoming a teacher.

“Knowledge is power and it was important that he got the opportunity to make his dream come true,” said Ncala.

Simelane was accepted on condition that he would start at Grade 10 to see if he had the determination to go the long haul.

“He did very well and was very ­passionate about his studies,” said Ncala.

Simelane passed his matric with a Bachelor's pass and he has already applied for a bursary to study towards a teaching qualification.

He said going back to Grade 10 had not been easy.

“My teachers were much younger than me, but I respected them because they were giving me knowledge. I can’t thank them enough for the patience and support I received from them and the principal.”

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The Mercury