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Matric of the Month

Alutha Phahlane
Alutha Phahlane

My name is Alutha Phahlane a young Xhosa boy …from the Eastern Cape and currently residing at the Alexandra township.

I’m currently doing grade twelve this year at SSB(Sekolo sa Borokgo) High School and when I look back and I picture myself on the first day when I entered the gates of the AEC at Waverley Girls High School I knew nothing about life, I knew nothing about the storms and  heavy weights that life could throw at you, I was scared and with all the new happy faces I felt like a stain in a white shirt.

Today I’m wholeheartedly proud to say that AEC changed my life, it had been my guide through the stressful years of high school, it made me hopeful, gave me a chance to form denial into acceptance, confusion into clarity and had brought peace to my today which created a vision for my tomorrow.

At home we live in a three roomed house, not big enough but enough for safety. I stay with both my parents and my three siblings, with children at home and the noise from the streets it is quite difficult for me to concentrate on my studies during the day, especially during exams. Last year in my finals I literally had to sacrifice my sleep and study when everyone is asleep around nine or ten o’clock till 1 o’clock midnight and sometimes I wouldn’t sleep at all especially when writing mathematics or accounting. At school I would fall asleep during periods, not hear a thing from the teacher in front, and that meant only one thing, *more work loads and sleepless nights*.

My siblings and I share a room, inside there’s a double bed that the three of them share, I sleep on the floor using a mattress that I neatly fold and push under the bed in the mornings.

With regards to my parents, my mother is an unemployed woman, she works as a domestic worker for only two days in a week-Monday and Thursday- she’s not a quitter, everyday she tries her best to bring bread to the table, she recently opened a vetkoek business at a corner near First park at Alex. She is my pillar of strength, she had supported me through my whole life till now. My father is a long-distance truck driver, he delivers goods from Johannesburg to different provinces around SA, he only works at night and therefore spends most of his nights on the road and comes back tired in the afternoon.

SSB high school has done a lot for me, being in the top five has given me the courage and drive to do good upon me and others. Being given the chance of being a prefect I had learnt a lot about leadership one of which is  that a leader is the one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way and that great leaders don’t tell you what to do ‘they show you how it’s done’.

The Alexandra township is flooded with people and poverty, and most of those people are the young generation of today. Today we are tempted easily, peer pressure with bad consequences has taken over, students are back chatting to teachers and parents for the sake of impressing their peers. In each and every first Saturday in a month there are trips organised by the members of different teenage groups-in the event children drown themselves with alcohol and cigarettes- this has become a trend and by it continuing it keeps on ruining bright futures of our future leaders everyday.

Without AEC and SSB high school I don’t know where I would have been. Before AEC and high school I was circulated by a negative energy, I used to gamble ,spin the coin ,play marbles and cards for entertainment, my friends used to smoke but thank god I was a bit assertive then and I was not tempted to try, my primary Maths teacher ma’am Nyangane  at the end of year in grade seven noticed my habits and she invited  my parents to a private meeting discussing my case. She saw that I was capable of doing better than I did, I was deep in trouble with my parents but I thank her a lot because without her I wouldn’t have changed.

Alum of the Month


Charles Sekgetho Mokwatlo is a PhD Candidate in his final year of study at the University of Pretoria in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Charles, an alumnus of the AEC, attended High School at the Highlands North Boys’ High School where he matriculated in the year 2010. He was a top achieving pupil throughout his schooling years at the HNBHS, where he eventually received six distinctions in his matric year.

“Living in the Alexandra township, with my mother as the sole breadwinner at the time, it never occurred to me that I could attend my high school in one of the prestigious schools in town.” Charles lived with a family of five, in a single room flat. “But when the AEC came looking for potentially promising students in Alexandra to sponsor, the prospect of being a beneficiary of such an opportunity excited me. I understood then that going to a well performing high school was going to be a big stepping-stone towards my dream of emancipating my family from the struggles we faced.”

Charles expressed a deep sense of gratitude towards the role that AEC played in his high school life, and how he was prepared to perform well in university because of it. “To begin with, it was the then Director of the AEC, the late Mr Frank Simmonds, who took it upon himself that I had a bursary for university before I even completed my matric year. So that eased my mind as I knew everything was taken care of. When I got to university, however, I realised that I was so much prepared for it compared to many. The extra lessons, mentorship and motivational workshops that the AEC provided through their rigorous program all played a role. It is for this very reason, that I was included in the Dean’s Merit list and achieved a four-year 77.5% average for my bachelor’s degree, as well as getting my honours and master’s degree with distinction.”

Currently, Mr Mokwatlo is planning to complete his doctoral studies this year, following which he wishes to pursue a career in engineering consulting while possibly being a part-time lecturer. He is also adamant that he was wants to be involved in social development work, especially in the education field. “If education could impact my life in this manner, I want the same for many other pupils like me out there.”