Durban - The matric class of 2020 has dealt with an ongoing pandemic and a lockdown, but this did not deter them from working hard and reaping the benefits.
On Tuesday, the Department of Education in KZN released the details of the province’s top 10 matriculants at an award ceremony. The event was held at the Anton Lembede Mathematics, Sciences and Technology Academy in La Mercy.
The top pupil was Colombe Obono Eyono, 17, of Westville Girls’ High School. She also placed first in the Pinetown District and second nationally for Quintile 5 schools. Eyono, of Pinetown, said: “I did not expect to do as well as I did. The year was challenging due to the pandemic but it is definitely a great feeling knowing that my hard work has paid off.”
She achieved 7 distinctions in English, Afrikaans, maths, life sciences, physical sciences, history and life orientation and has been accepted to study at Harvard University.
“I haven't decided what I will be studying, but I am leaning towards economics and African studies. My long-term goals are to improve the education of women in South African and Cameroon and work towards decolonising African economies. ”
Shaheen Govender, 18, of Westville Boys’ High, said it was the love and support of his mother, Nerika Maharaj, a specialist physician, that led to him placing second. Govender, of Amanzimtoti, achieved 7 distinctions in English, Afrikaans, maths, life orientation, life sciences, accounting and physical sciences. He plans to study medicine at UCT. He said his mother stayed up with him during the night while he studied and made him tea and coffee to keep him refreshed.
Jordane Hannah Vartharajulu, 18, of Southlands Secondary School in Chatsworth, finished third. She did not only have to adjust to the new normal during the pandemic, but she also had to fight off Covid-19.
“I tried to maintain a safe distance from people and stay safe because of the pandemic. But somehow, just before the trial examinations, I contracted the virus. It was not easy but with prayer and medication, I overcame it and I managed to recover in time to write my trial exams.”
Vartharajulu, of Chatsworth, attained 7 distinctions in English, Afrikaans, maths, accounting, economics, physical sciences and life orientation. She will study actuarial sciences at UCT.
Despite losing loved ones to Covid-19, Effingham Secondary School pupil Dipika Somaroo did not allow the pressure of the pandemic to get her down. The 18-year-old, of Effingham, came fourth.
“My year was tough. Besides studying for my final year, I also knew people who were infected with the virus. As much as I was saddened, I pushed myself to stay focused. My parents were my biggest motivators."
Somaroo has been provisionally accepted at UCT to study medicine but she would prefer studying at UKZN to be closer to home. She is awaiting feedback. Somaroo attained 7 As in English, Afrikaans, maths, physical sciences, accounting, life sciences and life orientation.
Sanam Maharaj, 17, of Greenbury Secondary School, attained 7 distinctions in English, Afrikaans, maths, life sciences, physical sciences, accounting and life orientation. She tied in fifth place in the province and was third in the Pinetown District.
“I am excited and relieved to have completed Grade 12. Our school was closed during the pandemic and we did not have online classes. Fortunately for me, my parents are teachers and they helped me.”
Maharaj, of uMhlanga, wants to study medicine. She has been provisionally accepted at UKZN, Wits and UCT and wants to specialise in cardiology.
Hemal Harku, 18, of Westville Boys' High School, also finished fifth.
“We always had work to do even after we finished the syllabus. We worked on past year papers, including the Independent Examinations Board papers.“
Harku, of Reservoir Hills, plans to study medicine at Wits. He got 7 distinctions in English, Afrikaans, maths, physical sciences, life sciences, accounting and life orientation.
Vaman Ramessur, 18, of Umkomaas Secondary School, tied at sixth.
“This is a big achievement. The deputy principal called me on Monday to say I did really well and that I had to be present at the award ceremony. When I told my parents, their faces reflected how proud they were of me.”
He achieved 7 distinctions in English, Afrikaans, maths, physical sciences, accounting, life sciences and life orientation.
Ramessur, of Umkomaas, said he would study actuarial science at the University of Stellenbosch.
Shreya Nair, 18, of Danville Park Girls’ High School, also tied in sixth place. She achieved 7 distinctions in English, Afrikaans, maths, life sciences, physical sciences, accounting and life orientation.
Nair said during the pandemic, the stress of contracting the virus was more concerning than the challenges of matric.
She said she found online learning helpful. “I also enjoyed studying from home as I was able to work well independently and at my own pace.”
Nair, of Tongaat Beach, said she intended to study actuarial science and was provisionally accepted at Stellenbosch University.
Kiarin Naidoo, 18, who finished seventh, is from Westville Boys' High School. He achieved 7 distinctions in English, Afrikaans, maths, physical sciences, life sciences, accounting and life orientation. Naidoo, of Yellowwood Park, also achieved a distinction for an IEB subject, advanced programme maths.
He has a choice to study medicine at Wits or UCT. Naidoo said the most challenging part was writing the exams with a mask. “The mask is uncomfortable and makes your head feel cloudy but I understand why we had to wear it.”
Akshar Kanaye, 19, of Greytown Secondary School, said he was a step closer to achieving his career goal of being a neurologist.
Kanaye, who achieved 7 As in English, Afrikaans, maths, accounting, life sciences, physical sciences and life orientation, tied in eighth place
“I felt absolutely great. I never expected it. Covid-19 definitely had a negative impact on us and clouded our minds. But I tried not to lose focus and was persistent in my studies, which paid off. I also have a great group of friends and we supported each other.”
Kanaye, of Greytown, said he was accepted to study medicine at Wits.
Kiash Nadasen Baldeo, 18, of Seatides Combined School, said he achieved his year-long goal of being placed in the top 10.
He tied in eighth place. Baldeo achieved 7 distinctions in English, Afrikaans, maths, life sciences, physical sciences, information technology and life orientation, as well as a distinction in an IEB subject, advanced programme maths. He said he was grateful to his family and teachers. “They were always there to guide, support and motivate me.”
Baldeo, of La Mercy, said he would study toward a business science and finance degree and was accepted at UKZN.