Benedict Mafoqa, 19, from Scottsdene High in Kraaifontein, achieved a 72% average “under very, very trying conditions”.
Benedict lives in Wallacedene right next to a shebeen. He told Weekend Argus that he often had to wait for the noise from the shebeen to stop before he could study.
“Sometimes, I would only start studying at midnight or even one or two o’clock,” said Benedict.
He has also unsuccessfully tried many times to apply for an ID but had to write exams with just his birth certificate.
The shy learner, who was dressed in his school uniform which he had already outgrown, melted the hearts of many people at a recent awards ceremony at Leeuwenhof, Premier Helen Zille’s residence, with his inspirational story.
Benedict had high praise for his principal, Karel Cupido, and his Life Orientation teacher, Rosalind Katts, who allowed him to stay at her house during October so that he could study in silence and prepare for the exams.
Benedict’s mother, Alfonsina Mafoqa is a single parent and was unable to attend the awards ceremony.
“I have a seven-year-old brother, Katleho, who I must not only look after but also set an example to,” said Benedict.
Cupido told Weekend Argus that the race was now on to get Benedict a place to study this year as he was unable to apply to any universities or colleges because of the hold-up with his ID.
“Benedict did not want to be embarrassed by being turned down, so he didn’t apply. We are however doing everything we can to get him in somewhere so he can pursue studies in IT,” said Cupido.
Benedict did, however, show Weekend Argus a letter from Home Affairs that his ID application is being processed.
One of the prizes he received was a laptop and when he looked into the gift bag, tears welled up in his eyes.
“I and many of my friends never had access to computers at home. Now I have my own laptop. I cannot believe it.”
Zille, proud parents and education officials braved the blazing sun to honour the province’s top achievers from the 2017 National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams.
The class of 2017 did the province proud with the number one and number two spots in the country going to the Western Cape’s Janke van Dyk from Hoërskool Bellville and Matthys Carstens from Hoërskool Durbanville.
Education MEC Debbie Schafer was full of praise for the province’s matriculants and singled out schools like Aloe Secondary in Mitchells Plain and Lavender Hill High as two of the most improved schools in the province.
The Western Cape achieved an 84.4% pass rate and was placed third in the country, and the MEC’s two children achieved bachelor’s passes in the exams.
Schafer did, however, express disappointment with the drop in the province’s pass rate, which dropped by 3.3% from 87.7% in the 2016 NSC exams.
“We may not be happy that we have dropped in our pass percentage and in fact by a position on the league table, but there is a quote by Plato in the Phaedrus: ‘Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.’”
The Western Cape again achieved the highest percentage of bachelor’s passes in the country, with 39.1% of learners achieving this quality pass.
In Mathematics, the Western Cape achieved the highest pass rate of 73.9%.
In Physical Science, the Western Cape achieved a pass rate of 73.0%.
This places the province second in the country behind the Free State.
The Overberg district achieved 10th place in the country out of 70 districts, with a pass rate of 87.7%.
Schafer was very pleased that the Western Cape had 64.3% of its learners in the system from Grade 10 to matric, 12.8% more than Gauteng.
Among the top achievers was Erin Solomons from Rondebosch Boys High School who achieved third place nationally in Physical Science and also secured the number three spot in the province.
Learners were awarded with R6000 and R10000 in the various categories and some also went home proudly carrying laptops for their outstanding performances.