While Covid-19 is threatening many pupils’ education, one young man from Bonteheuwel isn’t letting it get in the way of his future.
Abdush-Shakoor Majal is in matric at Modderdam High School, and for the past two years he has maintained a grade average of about 90%. His mother and not allowing Covid-19 to get him down are his two big motivators, he says.
The eldest of four siblings, Shakoor has applied to Stellenbosch University, UWC and UCT to study corporate law. He is due to hear by September whether he has been accepted
“There are so many injustices in the area,” he says. “I hope to study law to help the people of Bonteheuwel and make a difference in the area… The people here helped me to achieve what I have so I am not in a rush to leave the area but rather better it.”
Shakoor’s day starts at 4am, when he gets in some studying before going to school at 8am. He has extra classes until 4pm and studies at school until 6pm. When he gets home, he studies further, gets some rest and hits the books again in the morning. This routine continues from Monday to Saturday.
Covid-19 hit when he was in Grade 11 last year, and with his Grade 11 report needed to apply for tertiary study, he resolved to adapt as best he could.
“I knew I had to push myself to work just as hard from home. There are no Saturday classes now, so I have to be strict with myself at home and focus hard. Some of my friends have also worked hard, but some youth became idle and inactive.
“I really just want to work hard, and I know that I will reap the benefits of my hard work later in life. I might not see the rewards now, but later I will. You can’t just think short-term. I wasn’t always like this – I was very playful, but my parents guided me like they still do and they worked hard with me.”
His advice to other pupils is to stay the course and create the space they need to study, even if this means sacrificing time with friends and family.
“People don’t see how hard you work, they just see your end results. Push yourself to study hard and do your school work. Be strict with yourself, and you will see the results. My primary-school teachers always told me that I have the potential to be better, and that’s what encouraged me, and I want to thank them for that.”
Shakoor’s mother, Mushfiqah, says she is very proud of him. “He knows that he will get far in life with the way he is now. We fully support him.”
His father, Mogamad Yusuf, says growing up in Bonteheuwel is not easy for young boys as the pressure to join gangs is always there.
“I told him it’s either you choose a life of gangsterism and you will forever look over your shoulder or you work hard, make your salaah and Allah will protect you. He chose the second option, and we are so proud of him for all his achievements.”
Modderdam High School principal Rona Rayray-Wanza says Shakoor is an exemplary pupil and an inspirational young man who does not let his circumstances prevent him from being the best that he can be.
“Not only does he put in all the time towards his studies, but he also tutors other learners who are struggling,” she says. “He really lives our school’s motto, which is Facta Non-verba – meaning deeds not words. With his work ethic, we know that he is destined for greatness and trust that sponsors will notice and secure a bursary for him, which will enable him to pursue his dreams.”