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When waves come crashing down



The release of the Matric results is always a highlight of our year: young women with shining faces collecting their certificates and riding the wave of plans and dreams and a future in the big wide world. The tally of distinctions is tabled and celebrated, (especially Jeppe High School for Girls' 27th consecutive year of 100% pass rate), and we move on to taking the new Grade 8’s into our Ruth First family and looking ahead to the Flower Show.


But the reality is that the wave can come crashing down. For two of our 2019 Matrics, that was what happened when their Maths marks were too low for their chosen course of study. Having celebrated her three distinctions for History, English and Life Orientation, Boitumelo Langa was ineligible to study Architecture and Natasha Mwilambwe was not admitted into her choice of engineering.


Independently of one another, they decided to apply to re-write Maths in June 2020. As the Trust, we had a discussion about where our responsibility to our girls lay – and decided to assist them by sponsoring their attendance at Master Maths in Kensington. The initial agreement was for four months – but this extended through to October as the re-write exams were cancelled due to Covid. They wrote along with the 2020 Matrics in the Multi-Purpose Room at Jeppe Girls in November 2020.


Along the way, Natasha and Boitumelo held a Saturday morning workshop for the Ruthie Matrics where they shared some of the ‘tricks’ they had learned from their Master Maths studies. They were part of the Mentoring scheme and Natasha led us all in song with a beautiful rendition of Happy Birthday at our October mentor session. There was a final flurry of dread, and anticipation with the threat of the Maths re-write due to the leaked exam papers – thankfully they didn’t have to write Matric Maths for a third time!


This was the message received from Natasha at 05:39 on Tuesday morning: “Hi Jackie, I’ve managed to get a 63% for Mathematics. Thank you for all the support, for checking up on Boitumelo and me, for the continuous reminders and motivation to persist throughout 2020. You have been nothing but a blessing, a cheerleader with a contagious cheer-spirit. I am emotional because this mark has answered a lot of questions of self-doubt and has given me the much-needed boost in confidence to walk into the next chapter of my life. You and Mr. Tait have done above and beyond for not just me but also my family. God bless you and sorry for sending this message quite early, I’m just excited to share this with you.”


Natasha is choosing between an LLB at UJ and a B Eng Tech. Boitumelo has been accepted for Architecture at UJ and UCT, and for Industrial Design at UJ. She is waiting for her funding application results before making her choice.


As Nelson Mandela said: “Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”


Kevin Tait is pictured above with Natasha Mwilambwe and Boitumelo Langa.

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