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Image Credit: SANews

Despite the South African Class of 2022 doing the last two and half years of their schooling under intermittent COVID-19 lockdowns, school closures and various difficulties, including curriculum trimming, they kept their heads up and still emerged victorious.

Most of the top achievers of this cohort agree that the pandemic and the constant load shedding were their biggest challenges. Despite this, they dug deep to stay motivated, worked hard and committed to be at the top against all odds.

The top learners were honoured by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, at an event held at the Mosaiek Church in Fairlands, Johannesburg, on Thursday.

This year, two girls, Kelly Grace Prowse from Rustenburg Girls High in the Western Cape and Husnaa Haffeje from Al-Falaah College in KwaZulu-Natal emerged as the overall top learners in the country.


Speaking to SAnews, the 2022 overall NSC top learner for public schools, Kelly Grace Prowse, said that the feeling was surreal. Prowse, 18, is the top achiever in Mathematics, top achiever in quintile 5 schools and overall top achiever in the country.

“It’s surreal. I am absolutely thrilled by it all. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet but I feel ecstatic. It is absolutely insane to be one of the overall top achievers. I did not expect this at all. I did know that I will receive an award but I did not expect this at all,” Prowse said.

When asked if she always knew she will come out tops, Prowse said she did not know but she has always put in a 110% effort in her schoolwork, being motivated by those ahead of her.

“I didn’t always know but when I was in Grade 8 in 2018, the overall top achiever came from my school. So having watched her, I thought, if she can do it, I can do it.

“So I think that was definitely a good sign that it is possible. I have always hoped for it so I put a lot of work and effort into what I do and I am glad that it’s all paid off,” she said.

The top learner said that her two older brothers helped her a great deal, as she got to learn from them how they coped with Matric.

Prowse also thanked her parents for always supporting her.

Speaking on the challenges brought upon by the pandemic, the top student said that COVID-19 affected everyone across the country. She counted herself lucky to be among those who had access to online schooling, which still required “a lot of self-motivation”.

“When coming to matric, it was clear that our foundations were slightly rocky because of the pandemic, but with the help of teachers and working by myself to ensure that I’m on top of my work really paid off.

“Another big challenge I faced was motivation, trying to not reach the level of burnout. Matric is an unbelievably long year with many sets of exams, so trying to stay motivated throughout all of those was hard. Again, just staying passionate about what you’re doing and what you’re learning was slightly challenging,” she said.

Prowse said her plans for this year is to study Actuarial Science at the University of Cape Town.

She advised the Class of 2023 to take it easy, focus on their studies and most of all, enjoy what they are doing.

“To the Class of 2023, take it easy. It’s a long year. Just do your best and be consistent and pace yourself. For the most part, enjoy it. It is your final [school] year,” the top learner said. – SAnews.gov.za