Despite violent protests UKZN welcomes top matric pupils

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Feb 7, 2020

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Durban - Despite the recent violent protests at UKZN, the province's top matric pupils in 2019 have opted to further their studies at the institution. 

Aaron Naidu has registered for a BSc degree majoring in Data Science, while Shweta Harilal will be studying towards her MBChB.

Harilal was the top NSC candidate from KZN public schools, whilst Naidu was the top NSC achiever from KZN's independent schools. 

He was also the overall top achiever in KwaZulu Natal and second in the country. 

Harilal, who matriculated from Durban North College said medicine has been childhood dream. She scored seven distinctions with a 96 percent pass in core maths. 

"I am very excited to be joining UKZN. I chose this university because it’s closer to home and has the best facilities that any Medical student could hope for – I couldn’t have chosen better,’ said Harilal.

"I am grateful to God for enabling me to fulfill my dream of studying medicine. I’m also grateful to my family and my parents, Sunitha and Rajesh Harilal for their support and encouragement. They are my pillars of strength."

Dean and Head of the School of Clinical Medicine at UKZN, Professor Ncoza Dlova, said: "We pride ourselves on being an Institution of Choice for many high flyers like Shweta. UKZN was recently ranked number one in Africa on the prestigious Times Higher Education Young University Rankings, which lists the world’s best universities. This shows how serious we are when it comes to academic and research excellence."

Naidu scored 9 distinctions, with a  96.71% overall aggregate. 

He said he loved mathematics not only because he good at it, but also because it is the foundation for so many different fields.  He attributed part of his success to his grandmother.  

"When I was young my grandmother, who was a retired primary school teacher, taught me multiplication tables, basic addition and subtraction. By the time I got to school, I was already proficient," he said.

Dean and Head of the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, Professor Delia North said they were delighted to receive him. 

"I have deliberately worked to attract a core group of top performers to UKZN and to Data Science in particular. I am overjoyed that he has decided to come study with us. We have excellent staff who will support and extend him all the way."

Naidu who excelled in may competitions also thanked his parents for their support. 

"They were willing to travel around the country and the world with me for various competitions,’ he said.

This week the university was plagued with violent protests. 

Three buildings were burnt because students have been fighting for the abolition of historical debt and having to pay 15% of their debt. Student leaders have argued that poor students cannot afford to pay the 15%, which often runs into thousands of rands.

UKZN spokesperson Ashton Bodrick said the UKZN could not make any further concessions to the students without driving the institution into bankruptcy.

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