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Hakeemah succeeded despite challenges

When schools initially remained closed after the hard lockdown last year, Hakeemah Matinka (18) wondered whether she would be able to reach her goal of finishing matric and become the first in her family to do so.

Last week she heard she is one of 15 learners of De Kuilen High School’s class of 2020 who passed with a distinction.

“I felt overwhelmed when I got my results. I didn’t expect to make it through after everything. I had many challenges at home.”

Living in Happy Valley with seven younger siblings in the home meant no privacy and made studying difficult.

“My mom was also unemployed at the time.” Financially the family was under strain. Hakeemah says several teachers helped – with food parcels, lunch at the school, taxi fee and later when she got a phone, with data.

“They helped us a lot.”

Emotionally it was tough not to attend school. She felt there was a possibility that she wouldn’t be able to realise her goal of finishing matric.

“I didn’t have a phone then. I couldn’t get the work. I just had to look at my textbooks and summarize everything.’’

With no internet access and no privacy to study at home, Hakeenah says she also studied at school. During the exams she would be at the school early in the morning –“about three hours earlier” to study before writing.

It took a lot of hard work but now she is proud to have passed with five distinctions.

Hakeemah is fascinated by the young American songwriter and singer, Billy Eilish.

“She is so different from other youngsters that I saw in the media.” She started listening to Eilish when she was in grade 10 and struggled with depression and anxiety. Her advice to other learners who might experience the same is to speak out and find help.

The way her teachers helped and supported her inspired Hakeemah to pursue teaching as a career.

“I also want to help learners.”

She is hoping to start her B.Ed studies at Stellenbosch University soon. She is relying on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas), but also applied for a Funza Lushaka bursary. The latter will only respond in April.

She heard “Nsfas are defunding the B.Ed programme” and was worried about the registration fee. The rumour was debunked in a recent Nsfas circular which stated funding will be available.

To this year’s grade 12s she says, “Don’t look at where you are now, just look forward at where you want to be and where you want to go. Be motivated, it’s going to be a tough year – with Covid, but if you want to achieve something you have to keep your mind on it.”

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