Pretoria - Randeka Nghonyama finished her matric at the age of 43, and now at 64, she is a qualified electrical engineer. 

Nghonyama from Soshanguve was capped by the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) on Thursday last week, with a National Diploma in Electrical Engineering during the spring graduations.

The mother of four said she got married at the age of 17 which forced her to leave school after completing Grade 10. 

After working at a clothing store, she went back to high school after 26 years where, she said, everything was new to her. 

“My heart was always at school,I have always known what I wanted. 

"When I went back to school, my first progress report was a total fail but I never gave up. 

"It was difficult, because everything was new, it was like a child starting from scratch.” 

“I was sitting at a desk wearing a uniform just like any other pupil and I was being made fun of, including being called names but it never bothered me,” she said.

Nghonyama said she wasn’t happy with her first matric results and went back, and got it right at the second attempt. 

After completing her matric, wanting to study nursing, she then applied at a number of universities, with no luck.

She finally applied for an Electrical Engineering course at TUT and commenced her journey in 2003. 

Over the seven years she was enrolled, she faced a number of challenges, including financial difficulties.

She failed some modules due to age-related challenges, being in class with younger students and running an entire family while studying full time. 

In 2010, she dropped out due to being overwhelmed. 

In 2017, lecturers phoned and informed her about the phasing out of National Diplomas and convinced her to register again. 

Left with one subject, she registered and managed to do her practical P1/P2 with the Electrical Engineering Department and Project with Centre for Energy and Electric Power at the Pretoria Campus. 

Nghonyama completed all her subjects in June this year and said it was not plain sailing, but she refused to give up. 

Her qualification is dedicated to the whole of South Africa. 

“I have done it for the whole of the country. I want to show young people that no matter how hard it may get, keep soldiering on. 

"No one is ever too late or too old for school, I have done it and so can you,” she told Pretoria News. 

She said the institution has promised to offer her a job.

Pretoria News