Facing what many would deem insurmountable challenges, the triumphant Tinos Sibanda managed to obtain six distinctions, including in Mathematics and Science, in matric. The 18-year-old matriculant from Balmoral College in Boksburg told his peers how he succeeded against the odds.
Sibanda's father passed away when he was a small boy and his mother went to the UK in 2001 and never returned. He was forced to drop out of school in Grade 10 because of financial difficulties. He later found himself in a bogus school where he passed Grade 11, but it was not recognised by the Department of Basic Education.
He eventually enrolled with Balmoral College, but he still had financial difficulties. "The school saw me through financially and nutritionally. For that I am grateful. It's through this kind gesture that today I stand here with six distinctions," Sibanda told the other learners.
Ekurhuleni Mayor Mondli Gungubele offered Sibanda a full study bursary to pursue a Bachelor of Science at University of the Witwatersrand.
Motivating learners, Gungubele said, "The good thing about education is that you might not remember a paragraph you learned in class, but education stays with you. The essence of being at school stays with you and your life will never be the same again."
The learners were part of the 22 300 Ekurhuleni Grade 12 learners who sat for final examinations. Of these, 18 446 passed, constituting an 82,5 per cent pass rate.
Gungubele announced that the municipality was to put recreational facilities in place and support early childhood development education (ECD) in a bid to reduce the number of learners that disappear from the schooling system without reaching Grade 12.
"In 2000, 923 463 learners started Grade 1 and only 496 090 sat for exams in 2011. To add to this, an astounding 30 per cent of university drop-outs are attributed to failure to comprehend the English language," Gungubele said.
"Recreational facilities and supporting ECD is fundamental to the education and intellectual development of children and we believe that focus on the early development phase will solve the problem."
"The facilities give children more mental growth and development, independent thinking and problem-solving skills, while ECD ensures that issues of numeracy and literacy are grasped at an early level."
Every year, deserving students who would not be in a position to follow their dreams without financial assistance, receive mayoral bursaries.