‘I want to remain in the Free State, home is where the heart is, I am a proud Free Stater’
The Free State’s top-performing matriculant, Johan Brits, who got seven distinctions and wants to study actuarial science at the University of the Free State, said being humble and good old hard work what helped him to come out tops of the class of 2015.
“I always say it is not important not to underestimate oneself, however it still important not to be over confident and know that you can never know everything, hence the need to study and study to enhance one’s knowledge on the subject matter,” said Brits.
In addition to putting in a good shift, Brits said part of the reason he and his twin brother — who also made it to the province’s top hundred performers – did so well was the support that they got for the parents who allowed them space to study before and during the all-important school leaving examinations.
Originally from Fouriesmith, about 200km outside of Bloemfontein, Brits said he does not plan to abandon the Free State even if for one as gifted as he is there would be many doors open for him elsewhere in the country and beyond.
“I want to remain in the Free State, hence I want to study here, as the saying goes, home is where the heart is and am a proud Free Stater hence my decision,” said the ecstatic Brits.
He was speaking to The Weekly on the sidelines of a ceremony to celebrate the class of 2015’s performance that was hosted by the provincial department of education on Tuesday at the Central University of Technology’s Bloemfontein campus.
Brits was a student at the Jacobsdal Landbou Hoerskool in the Xariep District Municipality – where he excelled in mathematics, physical science, life orientation, accounting, Afrikaans and English. His average mark was an impressive 95 percent.
The second best performer, Katleho Tau Sehloho, from Moroka Secondary School in Thaba Nchu, also cited hard work plus support from family and friends as key to her success.
Sehloho got six A’s, with 99 percent in life sciences and 95 percent in maths, among other subjects.
He said planning ahead for his studies helped him prioritise the areas where he need to put more effort in order to improve his work.
“It’s very overwhelming. I am very happy with my results. I spent a lot of time on my books and I received a lot of support from whole family and friends as well as my teachers,” he said.
He is planning to study medicine at the University of the Free State (UFS) or Wits University.
The Free State, which two years ago was the best performing province in the country, came out third in the 2015, trailing behind the Western Cape and Gauteng province.
The province achieved an 81.6 percent pass rate, a 1.2 percentage points drop from the 82.8 percent recorded in 2014.
Education MEC Tate Makgoe said he was not disappointed with the results as the province still managed to surpass the 80 percent percent pass rate it achieved last year.
“Despite the difficulties of higher order question papers and the high number of progress learners we had, we still managed to obtain more than 80 percent, and that says the target of 90 percent we set for ourselves is still achievable,” said Makgoe.
Also present to congratulate the class of 2015 was the Premier of the Free State, Ace Magashule.
Magashule told the top hundred achievers that education is the one weapon that they can use to change lives of their families and extricate them from abject poverty.
He said the poor backgrounds that some of the students come from does not necessarily have to determine their destinations in life.
“The province needs you to study further and be positive role players in our national drive to change the lives of our people for the better, so do come back after completing your studies to help develop this province,” urged the premier.
Also there to congratulate the top achievers was the executive mayor of the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, Thabo Manyoni, who doubles up as the national chairperson of the South African Local Government Association (Salga).
Meanwhile other top performing students from the province are Tswaragano Mashiloane, who went to Beacon Secondary School in Thabo Mofutsanyana District, and achieved six A’s including 98 percent in Maths.
Among the best 10 performers, Mashiloane said she never expected to be in the top 10 in the province but was convinced she would be in the top 100.
“This comes as a big surprise and I am really excited about it. I feel honoured and I am grateful,” said Mashiloane.
“I can’t really say I did anything different from others. I was in a study group and we shared ideas. I was teaching most of the time but I also gained from my friends during discussions. We also had extra classes at school and I also went to another study centre that focuses on maths and physics. I must say I also believe in prayer and that helped quite a lot,” she added.
Mashiloane is planning to study accounting at the University of Cape Town.
Makgera Modise from Beacon Secondary School in Thabo Mofutsanyana, who got five A’s including 100 percent in accounting, said resilience made it possible for him to excel in his matric examinations.
He said although he has always worked hard in school, he ensured that he pushed himself even further when started preparing for his final exams.
“Even if you are hard worker, pushing yourself a bit further in critical times will always seal the deal,” said Modise who is going to study BCom Accounting at the University of Cape Town.
He said it was an honour to be among the top performing students in the province and he looked forward to going to university.
“I owe it all to my teachers and my parents. They are all very happy with my performance. They are all very excited as if it’s them who wrote the exams.
Nyakallo Josias Malebese, who is also heading to the University of Cape Town to study accounting, achieved six A’s. He was among the top performers in Physical Science and Mathematics where he got 98 percent each.
The former student at Mampoi Secondary in Thabo Mofutsanyana said he doesn’t have a particular secret about his success except pure hard work.
“I just remained focused on my studies and had very little time to play. I am very happy with my results. I have been so happy in my life,” said Malebese.
Salome Arlene Wessels from Eunice Secondary School in Bloemfontein believes a fair mix of school work and extra-curricular activities kept her mentally in shape and focused.
Wessels got eight A’s with 100 percent in accounting and will be going to study actuarial science at the University of Pretoria.
“I studied a few things at a time so that I would not need to do everything at the same. I am also a well-rounded person. I took part in the choir at school and played hockey and tennis. All this helped me stay refreshed and it was easy for me to concentrate on my school work. But above all, I would to thank God for giving this talent,” she said.
Nthatisi Precilla Maponopono from Bartmea School for the Deaf and Blind in Thaba Nchu is planning to study law either at Wits University or UFS.
“I am so excited. I didn’t think I would get this far. I am very grateful with all the support that I got from my teachers and all those who assisted me in my studies. I worked hard on my books and cut a lot of fun stuff. It worked for me,” said an excited Maponopono.
Armando Motaung from Nkgopoleng Secondary School in Fezile Dabi, who achieved five A’s including 98 percent in maths and 97 percent in physical sciences, said he is going to study chemical engineering at Wits University.
“It has always been my dream to come here and celebrate with other top students. Last year my school did not participate in this event because there was no one in the top 100 in the province. We only celebrated with our teachers. My principal was not particularly happy about it but this year I am proud that we have made it to Bloemfontein,” said Motaung.
He said the spirit to persevere helped him pass his exams as well as the power of prayer.
Makoko Alfred Motloung, who went to Mmathabo Secondary School in Thabo Mofutsanyana, had five A’s and scored 99 percent in Physical Sciences and 95 percent in Maths. He is going to study Medicine and Wits University.
Gwanele Shadrack Mahlaba, also from Mmathabo Secondary School, got three A’s including 98 percent in maths and 95 percent in life orientation. He achieved 98 percent in maths and 95 percent in physical sciences.
He is heading to Wits University to study Mining Engineering.
Mosidi Leah Chalale got two A’s after scoring 99 percent in History and 84 percent in Sesotho. She going to study Social Work at UFS.