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‘Working hard, going to sleep late’ – matric learners strive for success as exams begin

‘Working hard, going to sleep late’ – matric learners strive for success as exams begin
Minenhle Mabaleka, a 17-year-old matriculant at Harold Cressy high school, said she was doing her utmost for good matric exam marks. (Photo: Samane Jnr Marks)

The final matric 2023 exams are under way, with many candidates in Western Cape dedicating their efforts to their loved ones and hoping to be accepted into the universities of their choice. Principals say they want to intensify their efforts to increase the pass rate and keep learners focused.

Many South African homes are full of hope and anticipation as matriculants begin writing their final exams – the critical, final phase of their basic education journey. 

The matric exams are the culmination of learners’ entire school careers and determine the direction of their next phase in life. 

Learners in the Western Cape, like many others across the country, said they’re writing exams with the hope of studying further at university.

‘For my parents’

Liyema Dike (18), head prefect of Gardens Commercial High School, said she had started her exams and was ready to live up to her parents’ dream.

“I just wrote my economics exams today and my instincts have kicked in. I really hope to achieve a bachelor’s pass for this exam season,” Liyema said. 

She added: “I hope to achieve a couple of distinctions, so I can be recognised in the university of my choice, which is Stellenbosch. This would mean a lot to my parents as they haven’t graduated, so I’ll be living up to my parents’ dream.”

matric exams

Mitchell Edwards, a 19-year-old matriculant from Gardens Commercial High School in Cape Town. (Photo: Samane Jnr Marks)

Mitchell Edwards (19), a learner at Gardens Commercial High School, which has 111 matric students sitting the exams this year, said he had been studying hard. 

“Exams have been great. It’s currently my third paper. I’ve been working hard, sleeping late at night and preparing to get great marks,” he said.

“At the end of the year, hopefully I will get admission at one of the top universities,” he said.

Gardens Commercial High School, a coeducational school in central Cape Town, was established in 2006 and is a designated business, commerce and management (BCM) focus school.

matric exams

Gardens Commercial High School principal Dylan Tommy. (Photo: Jim Mohlala)

Gardens Commercial High School principal Dylan Tommy told Daily Maverick that the school’s goal every year was to see matriculants succeed.

“During the course of the year, we do a lot within the school time. The teachers focus a lot on preparing and getting the learners ready,” Tommy said.

He said the school was aiming to improve its recent pass rates of between 95 and 98% to 100% this year.

“We have worked so hard with this particular group, to motivate them and keep them focused,” Tommy said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: It’s manic matric exam time – here are the mantras for pupils and parents to beat the Grade 12 blues

During exams, Grade 12 pupils are consumed by the looming evaluations that will either end their school careers on a high note or bring them to a disappointing close.

Learners are immersed in study materials, while parents grapple with providing adequate support without becoming excessively involved. And, given South Africa’s distinct socioeconomic landscape, many households face unique stresses.

matric exams

Harold Cressy High School principal Shalie Isaacs. (Photo: Jim Mohlala)

Khalied Isaacs, principal of Harold Cressy High School, who has been at the school since 2016, told Daily Maverick that 129 Grade 12 students were sitting for their final exams at his school.

“Our goal for this year’s group of matriculants is to have at least a 95% pass rate. I am hoping that we get there. If we don’t, there is always next year for those who were not successful, to rewrite some of their subjects,” he said. 

“We believe that children must do as best as they can and have only one goal, which is to achieve the best results they can so that they can uplift their families and communities. I say that to all the learners and I say it often, and that is their only duty when they come to school,” Isaacs said.

Harold Cressy High School, in Cape Town’s District Six, was founded in January 1951 as the Cape Town Secondary School, but it changed its name to honour Harold Cressy, who in 1910 became the first coloured man to obtain a university degree in South Africa.

matric exams

Harold Cressy High School learner Minenhle Mabaleka (17). (Photo: Supplied)

Harold Cressy High School learner Minenhle Mabaleka (17) said her goal for this matric season was to achieve the best marks possible. 

“I have to work hard to get good marks. I get a lot of motivation from my parents, teachers and my principal, who is always motivating us to do our best and to study all the time, which is what I am doing now,” Minenhle said. 

matric exams

Iviwe Ndabazandile (18) from Harold Cressy High School. (Photo: Supplied)

Iviwe Ndabazandile (18), also from Harold Cressy High School, said he was aiming to go to varsity to study engineering.  

“I am not proud of my September results, but you cannot cry over spilt milk. What I am trying to do now is improve my marks, and my only option is to get a bachelor’s pass,” he said.

He said his goal was to “go into the engineering field, and study in the chemical engineering department”. DM

Principals of the schools featured in this article provided consent for the learners to be quoted.


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