The class of 2019’s matric results, announced by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, on 7 January this year set a new record: of the 504,303 learners who wrote the National Senior Certificate exams last year, 81.3% passed. However, what often doesn’t get as much attention as the overall results and the top achievers are the number of learners with special needs that also passed, many with a slew of distinctions in tow.
Learners who wrote their matric exams in 2018 already set a high standard, with 76.5% of the 3,051 learners with special needs who wrote the National Senior Certificate exams passing. In addition, these learners also amassed no less than 1,119 distinctions, and 1,669 learners (almost 55%) received Bachelor passes, enabling them to pursue further tertiary study.
In 2019, 2,255 learners with special needs took the matric exam, and of this group, 1,281 learners achieved admission to Bachelor studies, while 684 achieved admission to diploma studies. This group of pupils also managed to garner a total of 1,277 distinctions between them.
What is notable is the way in which these learners, who have conditions ranging from autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia and bipolar disorder to visual and hearing impairment, have taken these challenges – and sometimes many others – in their stride.
Says 2019’s top performing special needs learner, Tiyani Mbendzani, who completed his matric at the Rivoni School for the Blind in Elim, Limpopo: “What I have realised is that my disability never stops me from doing whatever it is that I want, and my disability is nothing.”
This, despite difficult conditions and infrastructure problems at his school.
It is stories like Tiyani’s that drive our educational philosophy at Sparrow Foundation School, where empowering learners for the future is the main item on the agenda. With dedicated staff and a commitment to excellence in spite of challenging domestic circumstances, we are proud of what our learners have, and are yet to, achieve.