WHEN Limpopo youngster, Pearl Khosa, took her place among the country’s top performing matriculants this week, she was still wondering how she had managed to end up there given her tough circumstances.
Pearl would always be exhausted every morning when she reached school after a 45-minute walk from her home village of Shibangwa in the Collins Chabane municipality.
In the afternoon she would walk the same distance back home after a long day of lessons in an overcrowded classroom.
Her home is in the far north east of Limpopo where in the summer months temperatures often soar into the high 30s during the day.
Her school, PP Hlungwani High, is in the Quintile – 1 group in the Malamulele south circuit.
Quintile -1 is the group of schools catering for the poorest 20% of learners.
Pearl earned a total of 1 667 marks to become number 1 achiever in Quintile 1 in Limpopo.
She also scored eight distinctions.
To qualify for the category, a learner must have achieved the highest total of the six best subjects excluding Life Orientation and a minimum of 60% in each of the subjects considered.
She was also one of four recipients of the MEC Special Award.
Limpopo education MEC, Polly Boshielo, said the award was in recognition of those learners from quintile 1, 2,3 and special schools “who have prevailed against all material learning conditions.”
The national lockdown brought about by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic complicated matters even worse for many learners including Pearl.
“I’m not used to studying by myself. We always studied in a group. When the lockdown was announced it made things very dicult for me,” she said about the lengthy period learners were forced to stay at home due to the lockdown.
Pearl said even when they returned to class life wasn’t easy.
“It was difficult. Our school is overcrowded. We had to wear masks and all that,” she said.
Boshielo underlined the tough conditions brought about by the outbreak of the virus.
“We cannot even begin to describe how Covid-19 has unsettled our candidates, teachers, parents and officials, and the challenges they had to go through for us to be here today. It has been a whirlwind journey and suffice to say that all the anxieties will today be a thing of the past,” she said.
Pearl was fortunate to have the support of her parents who ensured that during the lockdown she had enough data to access study material on a laptop she won previously as part of her academic achievements.
Her proud father, Bumani Khosa, said they supported her by also not burdening her with too many household chores.
“At the beginning of the year the school laid down some rules. They told us to reduce the amount of household chores we gave the learners, that we should support them in their school work and not stress them with chores,” he said.
He said although his daughter had excelled previously, they were not expecting she would do this well given the impact of the corona virus lockdown.
“We were not expecting much. It came as a complete surprise and we are grateful. We are very happy,” he said.
Pearl said her proud parents sacrificed a sheep in celebration on Tuesday.
“I’m over the moon. It’s all thanks to the Lord,” she said.
The mathpile is now bound for the University of Cape Town to study actuarial science, a course she learnt about from her teacher while doing grade 10. In announcing the well-spoken youth as a top achiever on Tuesday, provincial MEC Boshielo said: “Pearl, we are proud of you!”
(SOURCE: INSIDE EDUCATION)