The mood is festive and after a year like 2020 the ceremony to wish Ekuphumleni’s matriculants good luck for their final exams which start on 5 November is well deserved.
An annual feature at Ekuphumleni, the ceremony acknowledges the hard work of their students who in the final weeks attend study sessions that go well into the night, and to read out all the well wishes from teachers, parents and other supporters.
There are some nerves and anxiousness whether after a year like 2020 the lost weeks of school will have a big impact on the matric results. “Having to catch up on the syllabus in the last months has been stressful and I feel a lot of pressure. But I believe that this is a minor setback, I still want to achieve my goal of at least three distinctions,” says Gininda Asemahle.
There is also a sense of relief and excitement that soon this will all be over. “This year was very difficult and I have had to push so hard this year to still achieve my goals, so I am very excited to be here now,” says Masande Daniso, who received one of the awards for top achiever at Ekuphumleni. “And I am very excited for next year,” she adds. With plans to study Political Science and Law, and an offer from the University of Johannesburg to do so, Masande is ready to take the next step towards her goal of becoming an Advocate and one day a Judge like her hero Judge Moegeng Moegeng.
Even if they have faced immense challenges this year and it is still uncertain what 2021 will bring, the students of Ekuphumleni are no less ambitious. “I want to start so many things when I leave Ekuphumleni,” says Masixole Matshini. In some ways 2020 has prepared them like no other year before. “It was more a challenge than a problem,” says Masixole Matshini, who received the overall top achiever award. “I feel it prepared me for university where we have to self-study and motivate ourselves.” Masixole also found a sense of unity and working together that wasn’t there in previous years.
This sense of solidarity became apparent in an unplanned moment when Masixole stood up and handed over his top achiever badge to Masande. In a speech that was met with much cheering, he explained that he felt Masande deserved it more than him as girls and women in South Africa have to work so much harder through the societal pressures that boys and men don’t have to face. He urged all his fellow students to stand up for women and marginalised groups, especially beyond the popular moments when these issues are in the spotlight.
We are immensely proud of our students – 2020 has only made them more determined to address the inequalities in society. As Masixole noted, “It is up to us youth to start making changes.” We wish them success on the journey beyond Ekuphumleni – may their ambitions and dreams come to fulfilment!