Gone are the days when all top matric achievers came from schools in the suburbs.
Pupils from township schools are now saying: "Move over people and make way for us because we are here to stay."
Nontokozo Maphumulo, 17, of Matsheliso Secondary School in Meadowlands, Soweto, is one of those who has reason to be proud this year.
She says she put a lot of effort into her work and deserves the good marks she obtained.
Speaking to Sowetan Maphumulo says she expected to get three distinctions but was proud to obtain one in isiZulu, though the one she expected in mathematics had eluded her.
But considering the challenges she faced throughout the year she has cause to celebrate.
"My challenges made me even more determined to do well," she says.
"I was the student president and had to attend school every day of the week and then there was the teachers' strike.
"That became exhausting because of the work we had to put in.
"Even at home they would sometimes not understand why I was never there and say I was being disrespectful," she says.
"But beyond all that came the good results that I always wanted."
Pupils from Leshata Secondary School in Orange Farm were also optimistic about their results.
Classmates and friends Valentia Ndlela and Kgosietsile Mabalane, 17, said they were confident they would pass with a couple of distinctions.
Both said their study groups helped them a lot, especially during the public sector strike.
"The strike really created problems for us but we still went to school," said Mabalane.
"Those of us determined to pass continued to go to school even though our teachers were not there, but others stayed home."
He said he hoped to get into his district's top 10.
Ndlela, 19, who wants to study for a chemical engineering degree, said her year was rough but she knew she did well.
"I just have to see how I have passed but I know I have passed," she said.
Leshata's principal, Moeketsi Molelekoa, said there were many disruptions during the year "but we do hope that they get good marks that will help get them into universities and get them bursaries".