Out of the 534 484 learn­ers who sat for their 2017 ma­tric ex­am­i­na­tion, 417 239 were so­cial grant ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

Vuk'uzenzele - - Front Page - No­luthando Motswai

When Tumelo Mashigo was born he had lit­tle prospect of liv­ing a nor­mal life. Shortly af­ter his birth, doc­tors in­formed his mother that he had a rare con­di­tion called pho­comelia and his hands were un­der­de­vel­oped.

How­ever, liv­ing with this con­di­tion did not de­ter Mashigo. In­stead it gave him the fight­ing spirit needed to make some­thing of his life.

Fast for­ward to 2017 and Mashigo was an­nounced as the se­cond best per­form­ing learner with spe­cial needs in the ma­tric class of 2017 in South Africa.

He passed ma­tric with fly­ing colours, achiev­ing three dis­tinc­tions and be­ing ac­cepted by the Uni­ver­sity of Pre­to­ria to study Pub­lic Man­age­ment and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions.

He said with­out the as­sis­tance of the South Africa So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency (Sassa), his dreams would not have come true.

“My mother is un­em­ployed so from a young age I have been get­ting the dis­abil­ity grant from Sassa, which had such a huge im­pact on my fam­ily,” he said.

“The grant helped my mother care for me by buy­ing me food and all the things I re­quired for school.”

The 18-year-old from Tsakane in Gaut­eng com­pleted his ma­tric at the Muriel Brand School in Brak­pan which is an ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­ity for learn­ers with spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion needs. He was also the school’s deputy head boy for 2017.

This was also the school that pre­pared the con­fi­dent young man for lead­er­ship in the fu­ture.

“I have an in­ter­est in pol-

itics and help­ing peo­ple. I see my­self as a leader and I hope that one day I will be the pres­i­dent of South Africa,” said Mashigo.

Min­is­ter of So­cial De­vel­op­ment Batha­bile Dlamini said she was very proud that four of the coun­try’s top achiev­ers were so­cial grant ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

“We are also cel­e­brat­ing the achieve­ments of those with spe­cial needs who suc­ceeded against all odds,” said Min­is­ter Dlamini.

She said data from 2017 shows that 79.9 per­cent of the learn­ers who wrote the ma­tric fi­nal pa­per were grant ben­e­fi­cia­ries and over 5 016 of them re­ceived bach­e­lor passes while 5 997 achieved diploma passes and 2 863 re­ceived higher

cer­tifi­cate passes.

These learn­ers achieved 500 dis­tinc­tions in sub­jects that in­clude ac­count­ing, busi­ness stud­ies, math­e­mat­ics and phys­i­cal sci­ence.

Dlamini added that over 400 000 pupils who wrote the fi­nal ma­tric pa­per in 2017 were so­cial grant ben­e­fi­cia­ries. More than 200 000 passed which means that 59 per­cent of learn­ers who passed ma­tric were so­cial grant ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

She also an­nounced that 14 000 so­cial grant ben­e­fi­cia­ries have been awarded bur­saries from the Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme to fur­ther their ed­u­ca­tion at uni­ver­si­ties and TVET col­leges.

“Their achieve­ments will in­spire their peers and any other so­cial grant ben­e­fi­cia­ries,” said Min­is­ter Dlamini.

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