The Hanover Park grandmother was named the top Level 4 student out of a class of more than 300 students - all half her age - at the College of Cape Town for ECD studies.
Avril Martin, 52, is the pride of her community after collecting her certificate and medal at a graduation ceremony held this week.
The mother of two is pursuing a teacher’s diploma and has spent the last 18 months studying hard to achieve an 85% average in all her subjects, and she hasn’t missed one class.
Avril says she has always believed children in Hanover Park need to be educated for them to have a better future.
“I grew up in Hanover Park and after I married my husband, Donovan, we continued to live here and together raised our sons, Giovanni and Matthew. Today I also have a grandchild,” she says.
“For 25 years I worked as the receptionist for Dr Abdul Kader Jaffer and when he retired, I registered for the Community Work Programme (CWP).”
The friendly woman was sent to Steers Educare where she was employed as a cleaner, earning R680 a month.
“I was just a cleaner and a helper but I love children and wanted to be a teacher so the principal, Melissa Phillips, told me that I must get qualified and I got a learnership for College of Cape Town and started studying part-time and went through all my levels and this week I graduated with my Level 4 certificate,” an excited Avril says.
She says over the years, she became increasingly concerned about children dropping out of school.
“This is because a lot of our children do not have a proper foundation when they start school. Hanover Park is badly affected by gangsterism but people don’t see that a lot of this is as a result of children leaving school,” she says.
“Most of them drop out because they did not receive the right foundation and I am passionate about making sure our small children are well educated so that when they start school, they are properly equipped and are less likely to drop out.”
Avril is also one of the many parents involved with the Blomvlei Rising Stars Football Club which hosts regular tournaments to keep children off the streets.
“I am very grateful for the award and now I am working towards obtaining a teacher’s diploma to help educate my community,” she adds.