Born and raised in the Zwelethemba township near the small town of Worcester in the Western Cape, Palesa Makoti was exposed to the negative impact of poverty, immorality, alcohol and drug abuse, which prevail in the community.
Despite the huge challenges she faced throughout her schooling career, Palesa’s outlook on life remained positive and she was chosen for the Rainbow Star Schools supplementary education programme, in which around 350 grade, 10, 11 and 12 learners from the communities of Worcester, Rustenburg and Hammarsdale are assisted annually with extra tuition in mathematics, science and English.
Palesa went on to complete her National Senior Certificate in 2009. “The Rainbow Star Schools Programme supported me tremendously during my matric year and is still making a huge impact on current and former learners who were part of the initiative,” she relates. “My marks in all learning areas, especially English, improved significantly after I started attending the Star Schools classes.
This played a pivotal role in helping me to achieve greater heights in life and strive for nothing less than excellence.”
Today, Palesa is studying a degree in molecular biology and virology and hopes to one day be part of a dynamic research team in this field. She recently returned to her high school in Zwelethemba, but this time as guest speaker at the 2014 Rainbow Star Schools Worcester Awards.
In an inspirational address to learners and educators, Palesa said, “Hard work, sacrifice, dedication, discipline, humility and belief can get you anywhere you want to be in life. It doesn’t matter how you start, but how you persevere as an individual.”
“This programme has not only made a positive impact in my life, but also contributed towards enhancing and developing the Zwelethemba community and the country at large. The contribution by Rainbow and Star Schools is highly appreciated and means a lot to us. It’s more than a million words could say.”
Terrence Nkabine matriculated from Lovunywa High School in the village of Langeloop in 2006. After completing a BSc degree in civil engineering at Witwatersrand University, he joined Endecon Ubuntu Consulting Engineers in Nelspruit as a civil engineer. He is currently studying towards his master’s degree, specialising in water resources.
Terrence was raised by his mother, a single parent and domestic worker, but his humble circumstances did not deter him from dreaming big. “To me, the sky is the limit,” he says.
Terrence first heard about the supplementary mathematics, science and English tuition sponsored by TSB Sugar Holdings when he was in grade 11. “My school principal asked if I would like to represent the school at the Saturday classes,” he relates. “I was very excited about the opportunity to engage with other academic stars from a variety of schools in my municipality. This was a great moment for me indeed.”
After writing his first mathematics exam at Star Schools Terrence achieved 33%. He noted that the highest mark achieved was 71%. “I approached this learner and asked him how on earth he managed to obtain such an excellent mark – this is maths, after all, I said. He told me that he practised almost every day. I decided to follow this advice and started studying daily. My studies became my first priority.”
By the end of grade 11, Terrence had become one of the top five Star Schools learners. “I was even able to study physical science at higher grade because I was so well prepared,” he says.
Terrence is full of praise for the Star Schools teachers. “Their level of knowledge was of the highest standard and they all excelled in their respective subjects. They used to tell us to drain them of all their knowledge and this motivated me to strive to achieve good marks.”
After successfully passing grade 11, Terrence was keen to start his grade 12 year and spent his December holidays preparing, using his Star Schools workbooks. “I couldn’t enjoy Christmas that year, but it was worth it,” he remembers.
“I never missed a single Star Schools class during grade 12. I always looked forward to Saturdays, so much so that I would spend my Friday evenings preparing for class the next morning.”
Terrence went on to obtain distinctions in mathematics and physical science. “This meant I could pursue any field of study at university. My matric results also helped me to win a bursary from Endecon Ubuntu, which enabled me to study civil engineering at Wits.
“Thank you, TSB for giving back to the learners of Nkomazi Municipality, and for helping them to realise their dreams.”