Siblings who spent seven months without a school have passed the year

Modjadji Letswalo, 13, and her brother Mojalefa fulfilled their promise of passing the year despite having had lost months of schooling.
Modjadji Letswalo, 13, and her brother Mojalefa fulfilled their promise of passing the year despite having had lost months of schooling.
Image: supplied

Against all odds, two siblings passed grade 8 at the end of last year after missing out on lessons for almost seven months because they could not find a school close to their home.

Mojalefa Letswalo, 15, and his sister, Modjadji, 13, have been promoted to grade 9 at Greenside High in Johannesburg this year after they enrolled at the school towards the end of July last year.

Their parents, Monanye and Beauty Letswalo, had initially sought admission for their children in grade 8 at Northcliff High last year because it was about 2.6km from Risidale Primary which they attended in grade 7 in 2021.

They were so desperate to enrol their children at Northcliff High that they staged a sit-in in the school’s reception area in April and even launched an unsuccessful urgent high court application.

Mojalefa said he felt “great and excited” to pass grade 8, especially because both of them had missed out on “lots of schoolwork”.

In addition to writing the third and fourth term tests, they also had to write the first and second term tests which they had missed because they were not attending school.

Mojalefa got distinctions for creative arts and technology in his term tests.

“I worked very hard in the afternoons and over the weekends and am very happy to go to grade 9 this year.

“Our teachers worked really hard and provided extra lessons after school from Mondays to Thursdays in natural science, English, maths and technology.”

Their mother initially had doubts about whether her two children would pass the exams because they did not have a full academic year like other pupils.

“But after looking at the programme and commitment from the teachers and the principal there was hope they were going to make it. Their support has been amazing and they really went out of their way to help my children.”

Said Letswalo: “One of the other good things about the school is they keep you informed and give you updates all the time.”

She said the school provided her children with uniforms, textbooks, study guides and “whatever else they needed”.

“It was hard for my children to catch up but they didn’t have any choice. They didn’t complain because they saw the importance of education.”

She said though her son was under a lot of stress to catch up on schoolwork, he still found time to play sports at school.

She and her husband had tried to enrol their children at either Northcliff High or Rand Park High since the online admissions system opened on August 10, 2021.

They were offered places at Ferndale High, about 8km from their home, which they rejected.

Their problems began after information on the online system incorrectly indicated they lived in Cosmo City in Roodepoort instead of Windsor West, just north of Northcliff.

After they lost the court case, Ben Mothupi, the ACDP’s branch chairperson for Freedom Park and Naturena, lobbied former Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi to “accommodate the children at a nearby school”.

Mothupi said he was happy that the children had passed their exams at Greenside High.

“Children have a right to education. We appreciate the parents who went all out to fight for the rights of their children.”

During the high court application, Letswalo’s unemployed husband Monanye, in desperation, got his son, an advocate, to represent him without realising it was “improper” because they are related.

But South Gauteng high court acting judge Stephan van Nieuwenhuizen, “overlooked the breaches in protocol” and allowed Kgaogelo Letswalo to act on behalf of his father.

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