Their circumstances were not the same but both shared the stage of fame for being outstanding achievers in matric last year.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga recognised David Mark Dodkins (18) and Avukile Nkayi (19) for their efforts during the 2018 matric results announcement at Vodaworld in Midrand, Gauteng, last Thursday.

A determined Dodkins passed with flying colours in maths and physical science at well-resourced Bergsig High School in the North West.

As a result, Motshekga awarded him for being a top achiever nationally in both subjects.

On the other hand, Nkayi came in second place nationally and passed at the poorly resourced Nyanga Senior Secondary School in Ngcobo, Eastern Cape.

Nkayi also was crowned as the overall top achiever in the Eastern Cape during a similar ceremony last Friday, beating his fellow counterparts from well-resourced schools in that province.

Speaking to City Press, Dodkins said his parents had always supported him.

David Dodkins (second from left). Picture: Palesa Dlamini/City Press

“[They were] willing to stay awake while I study late into the night, always having a plate of food ready for me and always taking the time to make sure that I was where I was supposed to be when I was supposed to be there.”

He said by grade 12 his parents had already ingrained in him the discipline needed to concentrate on his studies.

“Also, my parents assisted me greatly by always trying to be quiet when I was busy studying,” Dodkins said.

Dodkins received an award as an overall top achiever in the North West and for coming top in maths and physical science.

He obtained the following:

• 90% in Afrikaans Home Language (HL);

• 100% in Alpha Mathematics;

• 98% in Economics;

• 97% in English First Additional Language (FAL);

• 100% in Physical Sciences;

• 98% in Information Technology;

• 97% in Life Orientation;

• 99% in Accounting; and

• 100% in Mathematics

He will be studying towards a degree in actuarial and financial mathematics at the University of Pretoria.

From a disadvantaged background and having only been supported through maths camp funded by provincial ANC leader Oscar Mabuyane who is also the province’s MEC for finance, Nkayi stole the limelight nationally and provincially by passing with seven distinctions.

He obtained the following:

• 99% in Physical Sciences;

• 99% in Life Sciences;

• 97% in Geography;

• 92% in Mathematics 92%;

• 93% in Life Orientation 93%;

• 85% in English FAL; and

• 89% in IsiXhosa HL.

Nkayi said he was thrilled about his achievement.

He overcame the odds with the help of his proud mother Thembeka Nkayi, a street hawker in Elliot who sells fruit and meat.

“My biggest motivation was the situation at home. We are poor and disadvantaged and that has always inspired me to work harder. I come from a disadvantaged background and that has been my motivation to change our circumstances as a family,” Nkayi said.

Avukile Nkayi

He said he was very excited to be accepted to study towards medicine at the University of Cape Town this year.

“I have always wanted to study medicine. This has been a dream come true for me and I am very happy to finally realise my dream. I love medicine,” he said.

“My secret was to make sure that I used whatever little time I had to study. I did nothing else with my spare time except to study hard. I would wake up at 2am to go study until I am satisfied that I have understood all that I was studying on that particular subject,” Nkayi said.

“I could not believe that my achievement was at that level that it could be recognised not only in the province but nationally as well. For me that was the highlight. I simple could not believe it. I am very excited and happy and thank my mother and the entire family and teachers from my school for supporting me through all of this. I would not have done it without them,” he said.

Siyabulela Fobosi, a public service accountability monitor education researcher based at Rhodes University, said it was important to recognise that the focus on the national pass rate often obscures significant differences in provincial achievements and the divisions between urban and rural areas.

“While the Eastern Cape experienced an improvement by 5.6% from 2017, there is a need to improve the quality of basic education from Grade R onward and not only in Grade 12. The access to quality of education remains very poor mostly in the historically deprived areas of the Eastern Cape; some of the schools do not even meet the basic learning infrastructure requirements such as access to laboratories, libraries and Internet connections. The basic education department, assisted by the National Treasury, should address these challenges,” Fobosi said.