Johannesburg - Cullinan’s Raymond Mamabolo aced his matric exams in 2021, bagging 100% in key subjects such as maths, physical and life sciences.
With distinctions in all his subjects and a perfect score in the maths, life and physical sciences, he became one of the best performing matriculants from a Gauteng township in 2021.
Buoyant, he secured a place at the University of Cape Town and had initial ambitions to study actuarial science, but after consulting a guidance counsellor, he immediately switched to applied mathematics, also at UCT.
Mamabolo, who spoke with the youth leadership organisation Citizen Leader Lab, reflecting on his UCT journey, personal growth and overcoming challenges.
Mamabolo appears to still be on the trajectory of excellence, as he is now the head tutor at his residence, helping other young people academically.
But adjusting to life at UCT for Mamabolo has not been without its own challenges, as he had to adjust to a new way of life in a new city and has learned lessons about life and academics.
“I had to learn how to approach learning for a degree. And although it took a lot of trial and error, it has been worth it,” said Mamabolo.
Mamabolo has had to overcome various challenges as a marginalised youth from Chipa-Tabane Comprehensive High, a township school, and from a low-income family who did not always have access to resources.
However, with resilience and the help of his teachers and principal, he triumphed in his matric exams and made it to UCT.
“Mr Masenya (the school principal) always had a clear vision for Chipa-Tabane. He constantly set goals and had high expectations of both the learners and teachers. This really motivated us,” he said.
Commenting on the country’s youth unemployment crisis, Mamabolo said the 46.5% youth unemployment is one of the scariest realities and challenges.
He said it was due to a lack of leadership and the education system, warning that as the world moved towards a skills economy over a jobs economy, more needed to do be done to ensure the youth were prepared for that shift.
“Our country should restructure its education system to help to equip learners with essential skills for our labour market.
“I believe we do not have great leaders in our current government, and this is why we have still not found solutions to our power crisis.
“It is very sad to see the leaders, whom we elected, doing nothing about the rising crime levels in our townships, our education system and our unemployment crisis.
“Our nation risks languishing in a state of disrepair,” said Mamabolo.
Mamabolo said the youth had to stand up and seize the moment to ensure they had a future.
“We are the future of this country, and if we allow this country to continue moving in its current direction, we will have nothing left.
“We cannot rely on our government to bring change. We know that our dreams and aspirations are worth pursuing.
“Let's embrace the power of education, as it unlocks many opportunities for us. Let's have faith in each other. Believe that South Africa's story is still being written and that we are the authors,” he said.