A VISUALLY impaired matric learner from the Vhembe district in Limpopo defied odds stacked against him in his quest to obtain a matric certificate.
Thulani Tommy Shikwambani of the Rivoni School for the Blind did not only obtain a matric certificate but also emerged as the top candidate in the special public schools’ category. The category recognises a candidate who obtained a minimum of 900 aggregate from six best subjects excluding Life Orientation.
Shikwambani also out-classed other pupils from ordinary public schools and special schools by being one of the top candidates per subject. The category recognises candidates who obtained 80% and above in selected or gateway subjects.
In this category, he obtained 282 marks out of 300 in the Xitsonga Home Language.
For all this effort, he received a Special Award from the Limpopo MEC for Education, Ishmael Kgetjepe. He was awarded with a Perkins Brailler.
Presenting the award, Kgetjepe said: “In this special category, I have chosen to recognise a special candidate who has defied all odds to perform excellently in the 2017 NSC examination. This candidate competed with candidates from special schools and public ordinary schools, and out-classed all of them by achieving the highest mark in Xitsonga Home Language.”
His school, the Rivoni School for the Blind, was also named as the Top Public Special School. The school achieved an 87,5% pass rate.
Speaking to African Times, Shikwambani said that the uprisings which engulfed most parts of the region over lack of service delivery were not the only challenges that almost served as an obstacle in his achievements.
“The other challenges that I encountered during our studies was the fact that our school had limited resources and shortage of teachers, but I never gave up but soldiered on to achieve good results,” he said.
He attributed his success to the undying spirit of his teachers who were not discouraged by the shortage of resources.
Now aged 21 years, Shikwambani said he had a glimpse of what the world looks only up to the age of nine years when he started experiencing visual challenges. He said he does not know what happened to him and added that he was surprised by the sudden blurring of his vision.
He joined Rivoni School for the Blind in 2006.
“I am happy for receiving the award from the MEC himself, I was not expecting this. This is just a reward for the hard work,” he said.
Limpopo premier Stanley Mathabatha was also moved by the young man’s achievement and made a pledge in the presence of the masses that he and the First Lady of Limpopo will buy him a brail computer.
Shikwambani said he was happy that the premier promised him: “Some of the students told me that they came across challenges because of shortages of resources, but I am happy because it (the computer) will help me a lot.”
Other matriculants who scooped top awards were from Mbilwi High School in Vhembe, Anza Tshipetane, who acquired the highest mark from all her subjects in the entire province. She also received an award for obtaining 300 out of 300 in Life Sciences.
Like Shikwambani, Tshipetane also acknowledged her teachers as being the force behind her success. “I have had so much help from my teachers. I had a very close relationship with my teachers to such an extent that I would approach them every time I had difficulties in my studies.
“The experience of the teachers was helpful because some of the things need elaboration from the teachers.”
Daniel Swarts from Hoerskool Pietersburg in Polokwane obtained position two. Swarts said that he was pleased with his performance and attributed his achievement to the dedication of his teachers: “It is years of hard work that pays off today and I am very thankful and proud.
“I want to thank my teachers for being with us all the way until our final exams.”
Boitumelo Ngoepe from Dendron Secondary School who obtained position three emphasized the importance of revising the previous exam question papers when preparing for the examinations: “They helped me ensure that I really understand what I read in the book and one gets exposed to how questions are answered in the examination room.”
Ngoepe said that he was excited about being in the top three in the province.
He said it has always been his dream to receive such accolades and he is delighted because he managed to achieve his goals.