#MatricResults2016: Top achievers lauded by minister
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Johannesburg – One of the country's top Grade 12 performers, Talenta Matiane, knew he had to work harder in order to pass matric as protests raged on in Malamulele, Limpopo, where schools were torched and thousands of learners barred from attending classes last year.
"It was a challenging time and months of frustration, every day we hoped that the situation would return to normal again. Myself and my friends had no choice but to plan our work schedule and work hard. Our teachers were very helpful, they were there for us all the time," said the 18-year-old learner from Jim Chavani High School in Malamulele.
He studied science subjects and plans to study medicine. Matiane was part of a group of 20 learners from across the country who were the top achievers for the 2016 national school certificate (NSC) examinations.
The learners converged in Midrand, Johannesburg, invited by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. However, the learners will have to wait along with the rest of the country to find out exactly how well they performed. He and his classmates used a nearby primary school as a makeshift library to burn the midnight oil, Matiane recalled on Wednesday.
"As the protests continued, I knew we had to be strategic, it was not going to be easy sailing. With the help of our teachers we studied old question papers, revised everything in the curriculum...it was hours and hours of work until we started writing exams. My parents supported me every step of the way, and I am thankful for them and the teachers."
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Another top achiever, Duncan Xihlovo Mabaso, 18, from Giyani, also in Limpopo, said he was happy when he received a call from the department to travel to Gauteng.
"I was told I am part of the cream of the crop for this year...and I was so excited I couldn't stop smiling. I have a younger sister, she will be in Grade 9 this year. To her and other learners, my advice to them is to work and pray hard from the beginning of the year and not wait for the final exams to start," he said.
More than 20 schools in Vuwani and surrounding areas were destroyed or damaged by protesters, demanding their own separate municipality.
Thousands of learners were barred from attending school during the protests that ultimately saw businesses in the region shut down for months. Motshekga thanked the teachers, parents and the top learners for their hard work.
"I encourage you as parent to work harder... you are the the future leaders. From you, we're looking at future academics, managers, scientists and so on. You have demonstrated that you can lead the pack.. we took this opportunity to hold this event and thank you for your dedication."
Over 800 000 full time and part-time Grade 12 candidates sat for the 2016 NSC examinations. Motshekga will announce the 2016 matric results and the overall pass rate later on Wednesday.