IEB achiever goes from a back room to life in Aus­tria

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Edith Sibanda left her home in Ng­wana, Zim­babwe, in 2001 in search of a bet­ter life for her­self and her young daugh­ter, Mi­randa Mncube. She found a job as a do­mes­tic worker in Johannesburg and, a few months later, her boss en­cour­aged her to bring her young child to come and live with her.

This week, Mncube (17), joined other matrics who cel­e­brated suc­cess with the an­nounce­ment of the In­de­pen­dent Ex­am­i­na­tion Board (IEB) class of 2015 re­sults. Her mother’s hard work and sac­ri­fice has paid off with her three Bs, and soon she will be jet­ting off to Aus­tria to study mar­ket­ing.

“When I was in Parkhurst Pri­mary School, I was so used to be­ing in the top three all the time, but when I got to high school – Hyde Park High – my marks dropped a lot, and I re­alised that I needed to work dif­fer­ently and harder,” says Mncube.

Johannesburg’s Hyde Park High School is the only state school that fol­lows the IEB curriculum, which is pre­ferred by ex­pen­sive pri­vate schools.

Mncube, one of 10 212 IEB matrics from 200 schools who wrote their fi­nal ex­ams late last year, 98.3% of whom passed, is very close to her mother, with whom she shared a ser­vant’s room at the Sand­ton home where her mum worked.

She is not the type to give a mother any sleep­less nights.

“I don’t drink or smoke or go out to clubs. Oc­ca­sion­ally, I go to the mall and see a movie with friends; oth­er­wise, I am at home re­lax­ing or play­ing with the chil­dren of fam­ily friends.”

Dur­ing ex­ams, she said she had to be rather strict with her­self.

“I did a trial run dur­ing pre­lims where I didn’t put any data or air­time on my phone so I could fo­cus, but then it didn’t work that well be­cause I needed help from my friends to learn some stuff. But then, when it came to fi­nals, I told my mum I didn’t want any data.

“I went to sleep at 11pm or 12am ev­ery night un­til about 10am the next morn­ing, and then I would put in a full day’s work with no in­ter­rup­tions – ex­cept for the oc­ca­sional walk around out­side for fresh air.

“Even when my mum would come into the room, I would tell her to please go away so I could work.”

With hard work comes great re­ward and, if all goes to plan, Mncube will be head­ing to Aus­tria early this year to live with one of her mother’s for­mer em­ploy­ers, who has of­fered to pay for all her ex­penses.

She was able to ob­tain a 65% av­er­age in her fi­nal re­sults, with 72% for her favourite sub­ject – geography. Her plan is to learn Ger­man for the next six months be­fore look­ing into get­ting into univer­sity abroad, where she wants to study mar­ket­ing.

Her mother is set to give birth to her sec­ond child any day now.

“It will be hard leav­ing my mum and new sib­ling, but I think it is bet­ter that I am not here so that she does not have both of us to look af­ter,” says Mncube.

“We have lived to­gether all this time, so it will be hard be­ing away from my mum, but it will be good for us be­cause I can get an ed­u­ca­tion, find a job and look af­ter the baby and my mum.”

Wrap­ping an arm around her daugh­ter, Sibanda jokes that if her daugh­ter does not keep in touch with her, she will send for her to come back home im­me­di­ately.


SKY’S THE LIMIT Mi­randa Mncube (left) and her proud mother, Edith Sibanda

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