Two Alexandra matrics beat the odds
STRUGGLING through their academics and on the brink of failure, Mitzvah School matriculants Thembinkosi Mokoko and Tshepang Mampane have beaten the odds and obtained bachelor degree passes in their final exams.
Both young men live in Alexandra and were accepted into Mitzvah for their matric year. They had no foundation in maths and science and it wasn’t easy making up what they had lost in the earlier schooling years.
“It was a difficult situation and it was disturbing to our academics, but the teachers here really helped us and gave us a holistic approach,” Tshepang said.
“I had no basis in geography, but I took the subject because it interested me. I got a solid 65 percent.
“I’m going to be the first of three siblings to go to university. My older brother and sister both did matriculate, but weren’t able to go.” It wasn’t easy growing up in Alexandra with the high crime rates, drugs and poverty surrounding them. “There were times where we thought about giving up,” both recalled.
“It took a lot of determination, but we did it coming from Alex. You understand that not everyone is going to be able to make it. I’m very proud,” Tshepang added.
His favourite subjects were life sciences and geography.
“I was worried about maths and physical science, but I passed both.” Tshepang plans to study electrical engineering with the aim of working in aviation.
It’s been a tough journey for Thembinkosi who lost his mom at age nine and moved in with his aunt, a domestic worker. Although the family continue to struggle financially, what kept Thembinkosi inspired were the teachers at Mitzvah, who continuously believed in him and his abilities. “It encouraged me to work hard and I realised that education is the answer for me. It will solve everything and this is what kept me going.
“Losing my mom at a young age was difficult, especially now when I needed a parent to help me through the stress and problems of matric. But my aunt kept encouraging me, which I’m grateful for.” With 45 to 50 students in their previous school in Alexandra, it was either sink or swim for the two boys. “The teacher didn’t really care; it was every man for himself.
“At Mitzvah it was completely different. We were all equals despite our backgrounds, nobody looked at that stuff.” Looking back, there were some challenges during his matric year. “We live in a one-bedroom house and there’s a lot of noise around us from outside, which was challenging when I studied. It was also all quite overwhelming but I’m really relieved.”
In the future he hopes to make a difference in his community. “I want to pass on what I have learnt to other children and help them to be successful.”
Thembinkosi has been accepted to study nuclear medicine technology at the University of Johannesburg.
Mitzvah School is a small outreach school that accepts students from the Alexandra schools for their matric year.