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Pupil makes history as the top marine science pupil in SA

Ashleigh Mingo obtained 85% for marine science. SUPPLIED

Ashleigh Mingo obtained 85% for marine science. SUPPLIED

Published Jan 22, 2022

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Cape Town - A Wynberg Girls’ High School pupil made history by becoming the top marine science pupil in the country as the subject was written for the first time in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination.

Shazia Parker passed with eight distinctions, including 87% for Marine Science, which was only written in the Western Cape.

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Parker said: “It feels really great to pass with the eight distinctions and such a relief to know that the hard work I put into last year paid off. Some of my marks were a little bit of a surprise, but I’m grateful either way.

“It's still sort of sinking in, but Marine Sciences was definitely one of my highlights during high school, and I’ve made really good friends and had a great experience doing the subject since Grade 10. I’m sure the entire class did well too.”

Her classmate, Ashleigh Mingo, also passed with eight distinctions and obtained 85% for Marine Science.

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“I’m very happy with my results. My goal was always to get eight distinctions, although I thought it was touch and go at some point. I’m also excited that I’m finally done with high school and can get started at university.

“Generally, the pandemic greatly affected schooling, but it took an even larger toll on Marine Sciences as all classes are taught after school hours, so for a few months, we had no classes. This meant that we were not able to complete all the Grade 11 work that would be examined in our finals. Fortunately, we were able to catch up the work with extra holiday and weekend classes that our teachers were able to put together. It was definitely a race against the clock at some point,” she said.

South Peninsula High School (SPHS) acted as the node school for 12 pupils who wrote the NSC Marine Science exam. This included six pupils from Wynberg Girls’ High School, four pupils from SPHS, one pupil from Cape Academy of Maths, Science and Technology, and one pupil from Norman Henshilwood High School.

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The Department of Basic Education’s spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said: “The Department of Basic Education acknowledges that the introduction of new subjects occurs in a gradual manner. The system requires sufficient time to phase in new subjects like any other change that is needed. In this instance, some of the new subjects introduced in the curriculum are not immediately available in some parts of the country due to a shortage of teachers in the particular area of specialisation. Strong partnerships are required to ensure the discussion of the subjects. For Marine Sciences or aviation, or engineering corresponding sector partners are needed. In time there will be an increase as awareness improves on the availability of the subjects in schools.”

One of the Marine Science teacher's Matthew Schroeder said a team effort was required to prepare pupils.

“We started with 23 pupils, and almost 50% of them wrote the 2021 NSC exam. We were able to introduce specialists such as Courtney Padua and Bahia Brady to present certain topics to pupils. We had Russell Stevens of the Two Oceans Aquarium providing revision classes just before the final exams.

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“These pupils must be commended for their dedication to the subject, staying for two hours (4pm - 6pm) after a full day at school. They continued with the subject despite initially being under the impression that they would only receive a certificate from the Two Oceans Aquarium at the end of the year. Thankfully, the DBE announced that they would be writing a NSC exam early last year.”

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