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Matriculant who juggled studying and caring for her Covid-19-positive parents scores seven As

Malaaika Irfan Siddique

Malaaika Irfan Siddique

Published Feb 24, 2021

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MALAAIKA Irfan Siddique had a lot to juggle during her matric year.

Apart from struggling to study online, she had to take time out from her studies to care for her parents, who had Covid-19. However, the 17-year-old from Newcastle still managed to attain 7 As.

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Siddique, whose parents moved to South Africa from Pakistan 18 years ago, attends St Dominic’s Newcastle and was placed on the IEB’s commendable achievement list. She achieved within the top 5% in five subjects and achieved a rating level of 7 in life orientation.

Siddique said the support and love from her family helped her.

“My father is my biggest supporter. He used to sit and help me. He also pushed me to study and stay focused. My mom, grandmom and sister also encouraged me and they prayed for me.”

She said that during the lockdown, when pupils were not allowed to attend school, her parents tested positive for Covid-19.

“It was so scary. My parents are my life, so my sister and I were worried about them. I used to study and then take time out to check on them to ensure they had whatever they needed. They often told us not to worry, but we could not stop ourselves. Thank God their symptoms were mild and they recovered soon.”

She said online learning was strenuous because she had to adapt to a different environment.

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"Sometimes I would have issues with wi-fi so I recorded the lessons. I also watched YouTube videos and attended virtual tuition. These helped as I could ask questions and get individual attention."

Siddique also set up video calls with her friends so they could work on past years’ papers together.

She said the moment she received her results was bittersweet.

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“My dad and I held each other and cried. My mom, sister and grandma are in Pakistan at the moment but we video-called them and shared the news with them so they did not miss out on the moment.”

Siddique said she was surprised she got 91% in accounting as it was a subject she performed poorly in.

“It goes to show that hard work and determination help when you set your mind to something.”

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Siddique aims to study medicine either at the University of Pretoria or the University of the Witwatersrand.

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