SA’s cream of the crop

While COVID-19 may have impacted the academic programme, the top achievers kept their heads up and fought through the roughest of circumstances to be the best of the best in the country.

Most of these Top Achievers agreed that it takes dedication, hard work and commitment to excel and be at the top.

The top learners were honoured and awarded by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, at an event held at the SABC in Auckland Park, on Thursday.

Speaking to​ SAnews, the 2021 overall NSC top learner, Ulrich le Roux from Paarl Boys’ High in the Western Cape, said being a number one top learner in the whole country was unexpected but it feels really good.

“It feels really good. I must say this was unexpected. I never considered that I would be the one top learner in the country, but as you can imagine I am very happy and looking forward to all the challenges of this year and will continue with my studies,” Ulrich said.

Speaking on the challenges brought upon by the pandemic, the top student said it took a lot of adaptation to get used to the changes in terms of learning and teaching.

He said that with most things being done online, with remote learning on google classroom and all other online resources, it was quite difficult to adjust to everything in the beginning.

“But after a couple of weeks, I got into the rhythm with a good schedule, doing all the work every day. I think the hard work I put in at the start of the lockdown really allowed me to go to the next level and achieve what I have achieved in Matric.

“I didn’t have a specific aim like being number 1, but my goal was to work hard enough this year so that at the end of the year no matter what my results were, I could still look back and have no regrets because I did put in all the work,” he said.

The top student said his plans for this year is to study Actuarial Science at Stellenbosch University.

He advised the Class of 2021 to enjoy all the last moments with their friends and family before they go to university or get a job but at the same time they must still be responsible and work hard enough to achieve the results they will be happy with.

SAnews​ also spoke to another top achiever in Technical Sciences, Innocent Mathonsi, who was also placed third in the category of Technical Mathematics.

Innocent from the DD Mabuza Comprehensive School in Mpumalanga said he was nervous at first when he heard about what he had achieved but he is now very happy because a lot of people wish to be where he is.

An emotional Innocent said that he could not believe that all the hard work he put in his studies is finally paying off.

He said that his success is owed to the previous top achievers from his school who played a huge role in motivating them while dealing with challenges brought on by the pandemic.

“They came to motivate us to work hard and I took their advice, stayed motivated and never looked back. The support I also got from home, having a computer and internet access also helped me to achieve good results,” he said.

Innocent advised the Class of 2022 to forget about the pandemic and start preparing for their examinations early.

“They must keep on looking for knowledge, because knowledge is power. When you know better, you do better,” he said.

Top achiever in Quintile 4 Schools, Iman Khan, said she was very happy to get first place as last year had been difficult to say the least.

Iman from Port Sheptone Secondary School in KwaZulu-Natal said the examinations posed their own set of challenges like every other challenge in life.

“However as a matriculant of 2021 with COVID-19 breathing fire down our backs and uncertainty paving our paths during the looting period, I can actually say we fought our metal and we fought in the roughest of circumstances. We made it and we are here and we can finally say we won the battle,” Iman said. –​

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