She passed matric at 31 years old: despite her family kicking her out for returning to school
NB: The article is a bit long but if one wants to learn about perseverance and determination; it’s worth the read:
Silindile Cele (31); from Mbumbulu; south of Durban; in KwaZulu Natal; passed her matric last year; after a long struggle to finally make it; her story reads like a novel.
Other students laughed at her in school; some of the teachers were younger than her, but she paid them respect and continued to pursue her dream of having matric.
As a sign of respect; students at her school called her MaCele; because they couldn’t use her first name; in a similar way they did to their peers.
Cele returned to school at age 30 after she had last failed matric in 2008; at Mangquzuka High School; in Port Shepstone.
She only passed matric last year at another school called; Mzingezwi Secondary School; at Ndwedwe; northern outskirts of Durban; where she wore a school uniform like all the other students.
Cele had initially failed 2 subjects in 2008; so she tried to upgrade the two subjects in 2009 but failed again. Prompting the decision to return to school full-time. In 2020 she chose to go back to one grade and did Grade 11.
Cele told a local newspaper that her decision to return to school; did not sit well with her family; who felt that she was old enough to get a job, especially after she had a baby.
She tried once more; to go to an EFT College in Umlazi in 2010; after 1 year; she ran out of funds and was forced to quit. Cele has no parents but was living with her maternal aunt in Mbumbulu; who is also unemployed; so it was a struggle.
To pursue her dream of going back to school; she did odd jobs like babysitting and cleaning people’s houses and saved money. In 2017; she used some of her money to get a driver’s license and achieved that.
In 2019; she was on Facebook when she learned that rural schools do take adult people who want to do matric; so she looked for and found a school in rural Empangeni; she bought a second-hand uniform; and found a room to rent; using money she had saved.
She had prepared everything by November 2019; to start in 2020; when she discovered that she was 2 months pregnant.
She was disappointed to discover this new milestone before her; she chose to continue anyway. She went to school for a week; before the school principal kicked out all those who were pregnant except for those who were already in Grade 12.
So she returned home, but she did not give up; she decided to try another school in Ndwedwe; she phoned the school principal and told him; she was 30 and needed to return to school.
The principal agreed and said she must come the following day. When she got to Mzingezwi secondary school at Ndwedwe; she hid her pregnancy; wearing shirts over her skirt and using big jerseys to cover her stomach.
She was lucky; they did not know her; so everyone thought she was fat; she also has a healthy body so it was not noticeable.
The pandemic also helped her a lot because some weeks she did not have to go to school. Even when she delivered her baby it was during one of the off weeks.
Her teachers did not notice anything until she decided to tell them that she had delivered her baby. She opened up about her struggles and the teachers allowed her to dish up lunch at school and also take some with her to eat at home.
She used some of her baby’s grant money to pay rent and then cater for the baby’s needs with the rest; she ate at school but over weekends; she cooked enough porridge for her and the baby.
It has been a long road for Cele, but she finally got her matric; she is currently looking at Nursing Colleges; to study her long-time dream of being a nurse.
With all her determination and perseverance; there is no doubt in my mind that she is going to find a Nursing College. Cele is not one to rest on her laurels; she is a go-getter and the world needs more women like her.
Never give up on your dreams.
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