Durban 030112 Top matric students Pic Terry Haywood

Sheer hard work remains the main ingredient for success in the matric exams, say the top achievers from the class of 2011, which again achieved a 98 percent pass rate in the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) exams.

More than 80 percent of the 8 281 pupils who wrote the exams at over 170 schools across the country are eligible for bachelor’s degree studies.

In KwaZulu-Natal, 1 720 pupils wrote the exams, with 10 making it within the top five percent of all IEB pupils in six or more subjects, and 14 making it into the national commendable list.

The province had the second-highest number of IEB matric pupils after Gauteng’s 4 365 last year.

In 2010, 8 285 pupils from 172 schools wrote the exams nationally, with more than 98 percent passing and 81 percent achieving bachelor’s degree passes.

Ken Elliott, the headmaster of Durban Girls’ College, which had three pupils in the top five percent, and Brian Mitchell, of Clifton College, which had one top pupil, hailed the exams as fair and of a high standard.

Mitchell said the exams were key in preparing young people for the transition from school to university.

Top performing schools in the province included Hilton College, whose top pupils, Francois Kassier and Ishtiaque Mahomed, achieved 10 and 9 distinctions respectively.

Kearsney College, St Mary’s DSG, and Newcastle’s St Dominic’s Academy also had pupils in the top achievers’ list.

Kearsney College spokeswoman Sue Miles said more than 50 percent of the 97 boys who wrote maths had achieved distinctions in the subject.

IEB head Anne Oberholzer said the organisation was promoting mathematics and science at its schools.

“However, we are concerned about the drop in pupils taking up physical science in Grade 12. In 2008, over 50 percent of all IEB pupils wrote science, compared with 47 percent this year.

“This appears to be a national trend, with the decline in the percentage also showing at state schools.

“We are heartened though by the increase in girls taking the subject. In 2008, 45.5 percent of girls took up science, against this year’s 47.4 percent,” she said.

Oberholzer said while no research had been done to establish why girls were favouring science, she said it was perhaps an indication of a realisation that they were able to take up careers which required the subject.

“It’s a case of bright girls taking up their rightful place in careers such as engineering, which were historically dominated by men,” she said.

Francois Kassier put his achievement of 10 distinctions down to consistent hard work all year round.

“I know it sounds clichéd, but it’s true.”

Kassier, who plans to take a gap year before starting tertiary studies, urged 2012’s matrics not to underestimate the power of determination.

Sameera Patel, of Durban Girls’ College, who scored nine distinctions, said the secret to her success was to study and complete as many old exam papers as possible.

Ishtiaque Mahomed said he was ecstatic over his nine As.

“I struggle with anxiety and I can’t sleep before an exam, so I learn the whole night through. I would never feel confident going into an exam without doing it,” he said.

Mahomed plans to study medicine this year.

Kavil Reddy, Clifton College’s top pupil with 8 As, dedicated his results to his dad, Reo, who was killed in a botched hijacking in Durban 15 months ago.

“I thought of him all the time while I was writing,” he said.

Robert Hill, from St Dominic’s in Newcastle, who also scored 8 distinctions, said that while he loved drama, he had enrolled at the University of Cape Town for a BSc in maths and applied maths.

“I absolutely love maths, but I am hoping to join a drama club in Cape Town because I am as much in love with the performing arts,” he said. - The Mercury