Being raised by a single mother who was unemployed for a long time and coming from a community entrenched in poverty – no one was expecting Tlotlo Lekgoba to be a labelled as a top achiever in her matric year.
She proved that despite one’s circumstances, it is possible to pursue and achieve your dream.
The Class of 2019 learner, from Baitiredi Technical and Commercial High School in Mothibistad in Kuruman, Northern Cape, obtained nine distinctions and took top place in Quintile 3 schools for 2019 National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations.
Quintile 1, 2 and 3 schools are not allowed to charge fees and are often referred to as no-fee schools.
As a beneficiary of government’s social grant system, Tlotlo said it would have been impossible for her to go to school, due to financial constraints at home.
“Some people underestimate the impact of social grants in changing the lives of people. Had it not been for that R200 or R300 I started receiving in 2002 when I was in primary school, my grandmother would not have been able to take me to school.
“However, knowing that government was going to make sure that it eliminates financial constraints in my life inspired me to work hard in order to achieve and go beyond what is expected from public school learning,” Tlotlo said.
She said her next step after completing her matric is to graduate and get a degree in Actuarial Science at Wits University so that she can give back to the community which moulded her into the person she is today.
“I thank government for making primary school and high school possible for all of us, [so that we] continue to invest in the lives of young African children and plough back into the disadvantaged communities that have the potential to take up young stars and people who are going to take our communities and country forward in the near future,” Tlotlo said.
On Thursday, Tlotlo was among 20 learners who were recognised for their achievements at a ceremony held in Pretoria.
Certificates were handed over by Social Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to the top Grade 12 learners receiving social protection services, which include social grants, Early Childhood Development (ECD), free basic education and health services, and psychosocial care and support services, including child and youth care services.
Over 60% percent beneficiaries pass Grade 12
The Ministers also launched the Educational Outcome Report of the 2019 Grade 12 learners receiving social protection services.
The report showed that 450 198 social grant beneficiaries sat for the 2019 NSC exams and 292 150 passed, reflecting a 64.9% pass rate. It also showed that the beneficiaries are passing their Grade 12 with admission into bachelor studies (40%), diploma studies (37.8%) and higher certificate studies (22.1%), with some beneficiaries obtaining distinctions.
Speaking at the event, Zulu said that it is imperative government accelerates efforts and focusses resources on reaching the most vulnerable children in society to ensure that they are not left behind, as we enter the new decade of the National Development Plan (NDP 2030) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“We can only do this successfully by identifying who the vulnerable children are, where they are, and which services they receive. By monitoring and evaluating the impact of our interventions we can ensure that effective and targeted interventions are developed and implemented.
“By monitoring and evaluating our work, we can be accountable to ourselves and the children we are helping. Most importantly, we can be accountable to millions of South Africans who continue to contribute to our government’s social solidarity programme through taxes, which has resulted in significant reduction in child poverty,” Zulu said.
Comprehensive social protection
Outcome 13 of the NDP proposes a comprehensive social protection system to address the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality in South Africa.
The NDP also proposes the development of the National Integrated Protection Information System (NISPIS) across the social sector to monitor and evaluate the impact of government’s social protection interventions.
Since 2012, the Department of Social Development started tracking the educational outcomes of learners receiving social protection services with the view to locate and improve the well-being of vulnerable children through education which is an essential building block in South Africa’s progress towards sustainable development agenda.
Closing gap between rich and poor
Motshekga noted that, in education, poverty is a huge variable between success and lack of success.
“When children who come from Quintile 1 and 3 schools succeed, for us it’s a double victory because these are learners who don’t get special tuition … We are really proud of these learners, it is a testimony that government’s efforts in providing a safety net for poor kids is yielding results.”
She said for the department, the greatest thing about the 2019 matric results is the closing of the gap between poor schools and schools in more affluent communities.
“…Now we are beginning to see schools in the township giving us 100% pass rate, we are seeing them giving us sometimes 80% bachelors, and distinctions in gateway subjects. This is a victory for us because government not only gives support to learners through social grants, [but] more than nine million kids don’t pay school fees,” Motshekga said.