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Phi­wayinkosi Halal­isani Mh­longo from Soweto’s Bona Com­pre­hen­sive School, came tops in the coun­try in tech­ni­cal maths and tech­ni­cal sciences – even though he lived alone in a rented room.

His mother Oc­tavia Mpanza has mo­ti­vated him through­out his stud­ies and in­stilled dis­ci­pline; his fa­ther Bon­gani Mh­longo would reg­u­larly call to mo­ti­vate him from home in KwaZulu-Natal.

“They al­ways send me money to buy sta­tionery, rent a room and buy food. They’ve al­ways sup­ported me, telling me I should study so I can get rid of poverty.”

Phi­wayinkosi lived in a rented room in Soweto and fin­ished his Grade 12 syl­labus by April with­out the help of a teacher.

“I didn’t wait for teach­ers. My ad­vice to this year’s Grade 12s is to try to fin­ish the syl­labus in one of the main sub­jects by April so that it’ll be easy to un­der­stand when the teacher comes into class.”

Phi­wayinkosi ob­tained seven dis­tinc­tions, in­clud­ing 100% for tech­ni­cal math­e­mat­ics and 97% for tech­ni­cal sciences. (17), What else could par­ents do to en­sure their chil­dren to do well at school?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word PAR­ENTS and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50. By par­tic­i­pat­ing, you agree to re­ceive oc­ca­sional mar­ket­ing ma­te­rial Qaqam­bile Mehlwana (18) passed his ma­tric at the ex­clu­sive Michael­house school in KwaZulu-Natal.

He said his mother Non­tuthuzelo Sibango gave him the op­por­tu­nity to study at the school – one of the most ex­pen­sive in the coun­try. It cost R265 680 for tu­ition and board­ing last year.

Her in­vest­ment paid off as her son scored nine dis­tinc­tions, in­clud­ing 97% for maths.

“She was al­ways push­ing me and re­mind­ing me to try harder, and would say any­thing is pos­si­ble. She would call, check­ing up on me and have small talks to sup­port me,” he said.

“In some in­stances, she would re­mind me that other peo­ple where I come from [Myezo sub­urb in Mthatha, Eastern Cape] didn’t let their cir­cum­stances stop them from achiev­ing.”

Since he was not stay­ing with his mother, Mehlwana said he also re­lied on his friends for sup­port. They would crack jokes to make him laugh: “My friends were there to calm me down and would say ev­ery­thing will be okay. They were there to sup­port me and be my rock, not my dis­trac­tion.”

His ad­vice to this year’s Grade 12s is that they should not over­think ev­ery­thing.

“That will put pres­sure on them and will weigh them down. They must take their stud­ies step by step and re­lax. They must also not un­der­es­ti­mate tak­ing notes in class. Peo­ple un­der­es­ti­mate this; they just sit down and lis­ten and go back home. The prob­lem with that is you might miss a small but im­por­tant de­tail. You can’t re­mem­ber ev­ery­thing. Tak­ing notes worked for me, 100%,” he said. Chris­tine Tino­tenda Mudz­ingwa (17) was Gaut­eng’s top achiever, scor­ing eight dis­tinc­tions. The low­est of the Green­side High School pupil’s marks was 86% – ev­ery­thing else was in the 90s.

She said her mother Egines sup­ported her in var­i­ous ways.

“She pro­vided me with a lot of emo­tional sup­port by mak­ing sure that I wasn’t too stressed out and by en­cour­ag­ing me to talk to her about what was go­ing on in my life, in­clud­ing my school life,” she said.

“And she com­forted and en­cour­aged me even af­ter some bad ex­ams, which helped me to get into the right headspace for the rest of my pa­pers. “She also took care of ev­ery­thing around the house and as­sured me that study­ing was my pri­or­ity.”

The chores Egines took over in­cluded drop­ping Chris­tine’s books at the li­brary if she was pressed for time, help­ing her keep her room tidy, and or­gan­is­ing and pre­par­ing meals.

Chris­tine’s ad­vice to this year’s matrics is to take ad­van­tage of ev­ery avail­able op­por­tu­nity, such as free ex­tra les­sons of­fered by their schools, and to pay at­ten­tion in class.

“They must ask their teach­ers, who are of­ten ready and will­ing to of­fer any kind of sup­port a pupil needs, for help – whether aca­demic or emo­tional. I would also en­cour­age pupils to start work­ing early so that it doesn’t all sud­denly be­come too much when fi­nals come around” she said.

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