Ronica Subramanian, 56, obtained a bachelor’s pass, with a distinction in religious studies.
Ronica Subramanian, 56, obtained a bachelor’s pass, with a distinction in religious studies. Picture:Supplied

KZN gran matriculates 40 years after leaving school

By Chanelle Lutchman Time of article published Aug 21, 2019

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Durban - A KwaDukuza grandmother has ticked off one item from her bucket list - matriculating.

After enrolling in the Second Chances programme, under the auspices of the Department of Basic Education, Ronica Subramanian, 56, obtained a bachelor’s pass, with a distinction in religious studies.

“I knew I had to break the limitations of my age. Attempting to complete matric, after 40 years, seemed impossible until it was done. I now encourage others to do the same,” said the mother of three and grandmother of four.

“I received my results earlier this month and my family took me to Spur to celebrate. We are, apparently, having a bigger celebration when my daughter and family from Johannesburg are down in September.”

Subramanian said, during a church service in August last year at Groundbreaks in Ballito, pastor Nel Sewraj said something that resonated with her.

“He was preaching about life and how we needed to better ourselves to help others around us. My only thought was that I needed to just go ahead and try to get my qualification.”

She said the department advertised the programme in a newspaper and, a month later, she registered for all six subjects - English, Afrikaans, maths, business studies, religious studies and geography.

“When the syllabus started, I attended classes and tuition, and studied religiously. I also worked on past year exam papers.”

Subramanian said that while she studied, her husband, Stanley, a retired electrician, often stayed up with her until the early hours of the morning.

She said her daughters and fellow congregants’ support had been unwavering.

“I recommend to those, who are interested in completing matric, to register for the three foundational subjects (English, Afrikaans, and maths) first and thereafter proceed with the rest.”

She said the exams often left her feeling stressed because after the papers were written, her peers, many of them who were much younger than her, often said her methodology or answers were wrong.

“When I received my results, I could not stop smiling.

“I prepared for the worst and I got the best.”

In 1979, at the age of 16, she left school to help support her family.

“I had just completed Standard 9, at Witteklip Secondary School, and realised how difficult it was for my family to make ends meet.

“My elder brother was working and the second eldest was studying. I decided I needed to help out financially, so I left school to work part-time, as an assistant in a shoe shop.”

She said her teachers asked her to return and complete matric but she refused.

“My father told me not to worry about finances and to continue with my studies, but I opted to leave and find a job. However, I always hoped that one day I could complete my final year.”

A year after working at the shoe shop, she secured another job, at a clothing factory shop, and also ended up getting married.

Subramanian said she often told her husband about her desire to complete her studies but never got down to doing it.

“I could not get myself to do it, even when my three girls were in school.

“Now they are mothers and my grandchildren are entering school.”

She said since her results were released, she had been contacted by a number of people who also wanted to complete their studies.

“My desire is to help others know that everything is not lost because they did not complete school.

“I have already told a few matric pupils that I would assist them ahead of their November exams and that I would offer tuition, with teachers, for them.”

Subramanian said she recently got involved with a church project, Nation Builders, aimed at empowering and impacting women and the youth.


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