Joy for mom as daughter scores six distinctions with help of official

Asenathi Mandongana overcame many obstacles to obtain outstanding matric results, bagging six distinctions and missing a seventh distinction by only one percentage point.
Asenathi, 18, from Kwenxurha High School in Mooiplaas, was helped by senior education official Anil Pillai.
Before moving to the department of education, Pillai was principal of Kwenxurha High School, in early 2000.
In 2016, during a visit to his old school, he was informed by a mathematics teacher there about a girl who was performing well despite challenging circumstances.
Asenathi was supported by her mother, a single parent, who worked as a cleaner whenever she could find a job.
Pillai said he virtually adopted Asenathi to ensure she could get all the extra study help she needed.
She was also exposed to a talent development programme co-ordinated by Pillai in partnership with Stellenbosch University, especially for high achievers.
“I met Mr Pillai in 2016 while doing Grade 10 and he assisted me with extra lessons in maths and science.
“I passed well that year and, as I continued receiving support from the Pillai family, I passed with distinctions in Grade 11 and 12. I am truly grateful for his support and the support of my teachers at school for realising my potential and grooming it.”
Asenathi has been admitted at three top SA universities to pursue an MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree, and says she is now waiting to hear about funding for her higher education studies before she makes a decision as to which university she attends.
“My advice to learners from Grade 10 to 12 is to stay consistent in their efforts and to prioritise their books.
“We live in a community where education is not prioritised – where you cannot go and lock yourself up in your room and study.
“You are expected to do household chores, which take up time, so I advise that one either goes to bed later than usual or wakes up earlier than usual. It won’t hurt to sacrifice an hour or two of sleep.
“In the end it all becomes worthwhile.
“We come from a background faced with many social ills, but that should not stop us from realising our dreams and going for them.”
Bulelwa Mandongana said: “I am grateful to all her teachers who contributed to her studies. I want to physically go to each and every one of them and thank them.
“I am a single parent living on odd jobs here and there, and what the teachers did for my daughter and me brings me to tears when I think about it.
“This has been a great start to my year.
“I am going to try my best and get a ticket to go see my daughter off wherever she decides to go.
“I need to see the environment she is going to stay in.”
Pillai said: “I am truly proud of Asenathi. She is a very smart girl, and it has been an honour working with her.”
He added: “I wish more officials could adopt a needy child and help them.
“Even one child will make a difference because that child will come back and help others.”..

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