Top five achievers at the Open Air School for the disabled are from left Langelihle Buthelezi, Zekhethelo Mabuyakhulu, Anjana Bugwandeen, Nomfundo Maphumulo and Bright Makhanya. Picture:Zanele Zulu/African News Agency (ANA)
Top five achievers at the Open Air School for the disabled are from left Langelihle Buthelezi, Zekhethelo Mabuyakhulu, Anjana Bugwandeen, Nomfundo Maphumulo and Bright Makhanya. Picture:Zanele Zulu/African News Agency (ANA)

Education Department visits KZN school after top matriculants snubbed at awards ceremony

By Nathan Craig Time of article published Feb 28, 2021

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Durban - The Open Air School in Glenwood was paid a visit on Friday by the Department of Education after some of their pupils who topped the province’s list of matriculants were snubbed at Tuesday’s awards ceremony.

The school provides care and education for pupils with special needs, and celebrated its centenary this month. The school’s dux, Anjana Bugwandeen, Bright Makhanya and Nomfundo Maphumulo topped the Learners with Special Education Needs (LSEN) category.

Kwazulu-natal Premier Sihle Zikalala congratulated Bugwandeen in his State of the Province address.

In an effort to rectify the error, the department visited the school to congratulate Makhanya, Maphumulo, Bugwandeen, Zekhethelo Mabuyakulu and Langelihle Buthelezi, who rounded out the school’s top five matriculants.

They were given gifts of laptops and other gadgets at an award ceremony attended by teachers, school management, parents and the matric class of 2021. Makhanya spoke on behalf of his peers.

“I was born able-bodied, but contracted meningitis in 2014 and developed optic atrophy. I completed Grade 8 as a top three learner, but after losing half my sight, my old school told me they would not babysit me and I had to find a new school. I sat for two years without a school, demoralised and defeated – until my brother found Open Air School. I will be forever grateful to my teachers and the school, who taught me that I could be better, and was worth more than I thought. I believe the class of 2021 will outdo us because of these teachers.”

Bugwandeen’s mother, Ashnie, said: “They had to deal with personal challenges, uncertainties and the pandemic, but made it through and we are pleased for them.”

Umlazi district director Ntokozo Cele apologised for the “oversight” of not inviting the pupils to Tuesday’s announcement at the Anton Lembede Maths, Science and Technology Academy in La Mercy.

Addressing the five matriculants and the class of 2021, school principal Noel Moodley reiterated the school’s motto, “I can and I will”.

“What began as a tough and confusing week has become an opportunity,” he said. “Our motto rang true in 2020; the pupils, parents and staff fought for success against the challenges brought on by a pandemic. They should not have missed out on the fruits of their labour, but today they are receiving the credit they deserve. The class of 2021 now stands on the shoulders of giants, the bar has been set and it is high - but now is the time to keep the momentum and raise the bar higher.”

Sunday Tribune

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