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Young and Gifted: A-level Whiz-kids Speak Out

Every parent’s dream comes true when their child brings home a result slip with well- aligned symbols, summarising effort and dedication.  ...

Every parent’s dream comes true when their child brings home a result slip with well- aligned symbols, summarising effort and dedication. 

For some, it is heartbreak in immeasurable proportions and jubilation for those whose children perform favourably. However, there are those who go the extra mile to define academic excellence with flying colours.

While the norm is that people write three subjects for their Advanced Level examinations, 18-year-old Pamushana High pupil Tapiwa Masunda decided to test his aptitude by sitting for four A-level subjects.

With his Ordinary Level results playing motivator, he went for the kill. “I did my O-level at Pamushana High School and I had 11As and 1B. The results made me feel that I could go all the way and try a bigger challenge,” he said.
Wonder Kids

For a child who grew up attaining flattering results, he says he was disappointed by the B grade he had gotten in his O-level results. “I was not used to getting Bs during my O-level studies, for that reason I felt I had not done my best by not getting 12As. I had to set the record straight in my A-level,” Masunda said.

He got 4As in Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Geography. Masunda says despite the glory he is getting for his glowing results, the journey was far from easy. “During the second term in Form 6, I fell ill mysteriously. I could not understand what was happening to me. I suspect it was something spiritual,” he said.

The illness prompted his parents to pull him out of boarding school to closely monitor him. “I started staying with my parents at our home in Nyika Village, 10 kilometres from school. And I had to use $3 daily to go to school and back, a steep figure for my parents,” he said.

The shift from school premises to staying at home during school terms almost derailed his plans. “My lifestyle had to change. I started missing my evening and early morning lessons because of the distance I had to travel to school,” he said.

He says his performance started to dip and the teachers could not confront him since they feared triggering his health problems. “My average study hours dropped from six to three hours. Reading for four subjects became difficult but I pressed on,” Masunda said.

He feels the only way he can repay his parents’ faith is by becoming a medical doctor. “The people who paid my fees were striving to ensure that I was well provided for and my wish is that one day they see the fruits of their efforts,” he said.

Masunda said he is not fazed by the criticism that sitting for more than three A-level examinations is a waste of effort since universities need at least two passes. “People should leave those who are capable of doing more to work. I wanted to have broader options in pursuing my dreams. Fortunately it worked out,” he said.

Masunda’s story has a similar tone to that of 19-year-old Kudakwashe Chitiyo of Harare High, who also came out with breathtaking results. He had 19 points from the just released A-level results. He had three As in Accounting, Economics, Mathematics and a B in Business Studies.

After his father lost his job, his mother has been sustaining their household through selling vegetables. “My father lost his job in October 2015 and since then, my mother has been striving to sustain the family through vegetable vending,” he said.

Despite the challenges Chitiyo faced, he had close role models who pushed him not to stop in pursuit of his dream. “There were problems at home but my Mathematics teacher kept motivating me. He used to narrate to me the struggles he faced growing up, at some point going to school barefooted.

“I related to his story and he became my mentor,” said Chitiyo. The friendship they etched proved to be the spirit that maintained his drive even when obstacles presented themselves. Now that his teacher is in Belgium doing his Masters’ Degree in Biochemistry, Chitiyo wishes to emulate his mentor but in a different field.

“I want to study Actuarial Sciences because it is a well rewarding programme and I will be able to take care of my family and help in my country’s development,” he said. Chitiyo said he had to forgo his social life to achieve his dream.

“I had to stop doing other things like watching television and being on social media so that I could focus on my work. “The only pastime I had was helping my mother out at her stall,” he said describing his exam routines.

His wish is that he gets financial assistance to pursue his dreams since tertiary fees are a bit high. Despite the stereotypes that have surrounded their school in recent years, two Girls High School pupils decided to show that what boys can do, girls can do better.

Eighteen-year olds Samkheliso Chamboko and Zerbinetta Gwindi excelled in the subjects they sat for, attaining 15 points each. In a fairytale manner, the pair’s prospects have been identical, fulfilling the saying “birds of the same feathers flock together”.

They both sat for Divinity, History and Literature examinations in the 2016 November examinations. Chamboko says they were working together throughout the journey. “When we had free periods, we used to study together with our other friends. After school hours, we would stay behind and read from 4:30pm until 6pm,” the Zimbabwe Under 18 ladies rugby player said.

After their achievement, they feel reading law is the right path to do justice to their effort. Gwindi explains how she balanced extracurricular activities and academic work. “It was difficult for us to balance between clubs and school work. I was the Quizz Club president and a high ranking member of the Writers’ Club and Environmental Club. It was really difficult to cope,” she said.

She added that they would attend club meetings on each other’s behalf to strike a balance. Driven by passion and positive competition, these two friends say that they motivated each other to strive harder ever since they etched a friendship in Lower six.

“I wanted to make my grandmother proud. This is why I had to put in extra work to get high marks, quite honestly the 15 points were just a bonus,” Gwindi said. Chamboko also said that she was not much of a bookworm but her calculated efforts saw her through.

“I knew I was going to have good marks, but I didn’t really expect 15 points because I was not too hard on myself,” she said. The duo is testament to the idea that there is greatness in numbers and they collaborated to good effect, making their families proud.

St Faith pupil Tadiwanashe Chitumba (19) had a repeated show of brilliance when he sat for two consecutive examinations, scoring exceptional marks in both. “I wrote Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry in June and I attained 15 points. I then sat for Further Maths, Accounting and Business Studies in November and got 15 points as well,” he said.

This took his points tally to 30. However, Chitumba did not have it easy as it may seem. His triumph was a summary of determination and self-belief. “My timetables clashed and I could not attend classes for Accounting and Business studies,” Chitumba said.

He had to read the commercial subjects on his own, with regular consultations with the teachers to stay in line with the syllabus. A sucker for challenges, Chitumba said he was seeking fulfilment through navigating a seemingly difficult maze.

“I do not believe that there is anything called an easy subject in academics. I just picked subjects I felt allowed me to realise my full potential,” he said. Attaining such high marks always comes at a price and he also had to close out the world for progress.

“My life was centred on books, but I did not push myself too hard. I would read up to 2am on a daily basis and study with my friends who also got high marks,” said Chitumba. However, during the school holidays, the whizkid says he relaxed and tried catching up with the world. He wishes to travel abroad and pursue Engineering.

“My passion is Mathematics. I have to study something that involves complex numbers. My options are either Mechatronics and Robotics, as well as Civil Engineering,” he said exhibiting his love for numbers.

Chitumba says he is inspired by his mother, who is proficient in Mathematics. His father, Mr Chitumba said he was sceptical of his son’s decision to study six subjects, but his son’s determination could not be quenched. “First of all I wanted to discourage him from taking unnecessary pressure but he was insistent,” Mr Chitumba said.

His son’s O-level results were enough to get him to believe in him. He had 13As and 2Bs. In 2012, he won money in the PORTRAZ 41st International Letter Writing Competition in the country. Mr Chitumba says he is now moving with his son just to show him the importance of socialising.

Zimbabwe is revered as an academic country, whose citizens prioritise nourishing their brains. With an emerging crop of this nature, our reputation as a nation of brainiacs is assured. - Herald 

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