Johannesburg - For the first time since start of the National Senior Certificate exams six years ago, a candidate from a no-fee school is the best in the province.
Praise Ndebele, from Ponelopele Oracle Secondary School in Ivory Park, clinched nine distinctions – with full marks for maths, accounting and business studies.
Praise said he often imagined he would be the best performer in the country but “I would be realistic, because I knew I was competing with learners from better schools who have resources like study rooms at home. If I had those opportunities like my own free time to study, I would have done better”.
He said he had always had a flair for mathematics. He will either study for a BSc maths and science at Wits or do financial accounting at the University of Cape Town.
Praise said he started preparing for the exams early in the year.
“I knew what I wanted to achieve.
“From January to June I had sleepless nights. I would study until 2am and my parents would knock on my door and tell me to get some rest. I would pretend to rest but would actually study until 4am. I then slept for an hour and prepared for the next day at school.
“So, by the time the teacher got to some parts of syllabus I was already past there and it was just revision for me. From June I, started doing revision and using past question papers. The best thing to do is plan ahead and never procrastinate.”
He said he used social networks and the internet to find text books and information on bursaries and what to study. “I use social networks as support resources. I also have close friends who do well and we motivate each other.”
Praise also attributed his success to the support of the school.
“It did not matter when you wanted to study, they would let you into the school. The teachers also motivated us to be the best.”
His proud father, Emmanuel Mlilo, said he expected his son to do well. “I believed he was going to do well. He has always been brilliant.”
Principal of Ponelopele Mokgopa Leso said: “He is a brilliant student. He worked around the clock to ensure that he got great marks. It did not matter that he comes from an impoverished community; it just shows that you have to go the extra mile to achieve your goals. I salute him for the focus.”
Chairman of the school governing body Elmond Mhlanga said pupils at the school did well because of parental involvement.
“As the SGB we spoke to the learners and encouraged them to work hard. This shows that they took the message seriously.”