Elsies River matriculant celebrates 4 distinctions, inspired to beat social ills

Wesley Swarts said that the social ills in his community were what motivated him to believe that it did get better.

Matriculants wait to collect their senior certificate exam results at the Elswood High School in Elsies River, Cape Town on 23 February 2021. Picture: Graig-Lee Smith/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - The matric class of 2020 has officially closed the chapter of their high school career, with thousands of pupils celebrating after collecting their individual results at school.

Last year's grade 12s achieved a 76.2% pass rate for the November 2020 exams.

At Elswood High school in Elsies River, there was jubiliation as the now-former students got their results. On a normal day, many matric pupils would walk between two and five kilometers to get to school, often fearing they could be hit with a stray bullet due to gang violence in the area.

"Coming to school, walking through these gang lands every day, there is so much uncertainty. You don't know if you going arrive safely at school because you don't when they're going to shoot, where they're going to shoot," said Wesley Swarts. He achieved four distinctions and couldn't hold back the tears when he found out. He said that the social ills in his community were what motivated him to believe that it did get better.

"These social ills has to be some sort of encouragement… not just some kind of weight holding you down."

His dream is to become a lawyer one day and help his community.


Education experts said that the matric class of 2021 and their teachers needed support now more than ever.

There are fears that this year's matrics will have an even more difficult year than their counterparts of last year.

Research fellow at the University of Johannesburg, Professor Mary Metcalfe, said that this year's matrics returned to school much later last year when they were in grade 11 thus missing out on work that needed to be done before their final year of high school.

"It's not possible that they would have been able to cover the same content, acquired the skills, the content, the concepts that was in place for the grade 12s of last year."

Metcalfe said that teachers must be taken care of and the correct plans needed to be put in place to avoid being burnt out.

"We need to, as a country, thank those teachers and do everything that we can to support them."

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