National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)

Sifiso Hosana wants to empower and rehabilitate people, and ignite a passion for education within the hearts of children

Sifiso Hosana matriculated at Mafemani-Nxumalo Secondary School in Mpumalanga. He is studying medicine at the University of Cape Town. He was selected as one of the students for the NSTF’s Brilliants Programme in 2022.


“Numbers always make sense and that’s something that I always loved. There is no subjective answer, it is either you are correct or wrong.”

Tell us a bit about your school?

My school, Mafemani-Nxumalo Secondary School, was established in 1976 and is located in Bushbuckridge in the township of Thulamahashe, Mpumalanga. It is led by the principal, Mr F Nkosi, along with his two deputies Mrs SSS Shendelane and Ms BC Khosa. It is a typical Quintile One school, which should help readers create a mental picture of the place. As such, education is not really a priority for most learners, but the teachers are completely devoted to changing that detrimental mentality. The teachers are passionate about education and this is reflected in the hours which are spent inside the classroom. School-days run from Monday to Saturday every week and on some weeks Sundays are also included. Learners are expected to be seated by 05:45 and classes run until 14:30, whereafter there is an hour for studying. At 15:30 the school day ends.

The school felt more like a second family home for me because of the concern everyone shows for each other. The teachers, being the “parents”, were concerned about each learner’s life in its entirety, not just the academic aspect.

Why do you think some people have a problem with math and science? What would you do to solve the problem?

One of the biggest problems is the widespread myth that science and maths are too difficult. These are perceived as subjects that are only for a certain group of learners and this results in learners often not even making an attempt to be proficient in these subjects. Another problem is the issue of teachers only devoting their time to the “smart” children and neglecting the rest of the class, which is an issue I’ve seen too often. This leads to the “neglected” learners feeling that they no longer need to diligently do their work.

The former issue can be solved by inviting other former high school learners, who at some point also thought that these subjects are too difficult but, after getting rid of this misconception from their minds, became masters of the subjects. The latter can be solved by teachers devoting more time to learners who are finding the subjects difficult instead of only to the ones who are already doing very well.

Why did you enjoy science and maths?

I enjoyed maths and science because I think I had a good relationship with the subjects from primary school. I believe in order to do well in something you have to enjoy it, and in order to enjoy it you have to love it. My teachers taught the subjects with passion and made them come alive, while at the same time explaining the importance of these subjects in this information age. Numbers always make sense and that’s something that I always loved. There is no subjective answer, it is either you are correct or wrong. Science also has that characteristic. Both subjects do not contain a lot of information which one is expected to consume and then regurgitate at a later point in time; instead you are given principles which you are expected to use in order to solve problems. A great deal of satisfaction comes with finally solving a problem.

What inspires you?

My main source of inspiration is my faith in God, possessing the knowledge that there is no obstacle too great in life. If God wills for me to overcome it, then I will do so. This knowledge births within me a fire to tackle any obstacle, but also provides a safety net for me to fall upon when things do not go the way I planned. My brother also serves as inspiration because he made it against the very same odds which I face today face. He went to university and obtained a degree.

Why did you choose the course you are studying?

I specifically chose to study medicine because I feel that a doctor cures more than just physical illness. The doctors who I have seen in my community – even though there are just a few of them – have been alleviators of not just biological pain, but also of psychological pain. The joy which is to be attained when you help someone escape a situation which would have otherwise resulted in their demise is something I want to experience.

A message to South African youth?

What I have realised is that life progresses so gradually such that the fact that we are grown up does not dawn on us until it is too late. As youth we are too comfortable with being dependent on our parents/guardians, forgetting that their presence is not permanent (forgive me for sounding morbid). I would like to tell the youth of South Africa that the time is now, we are no longer children, we are grown up right now! It is time to be responsible for our own lives, time to make decisions which will yield fruit tomorrow.

Any tips for learners in grades 11 and 12?

The best tip I can give is a saying: “Consistency is the only currency that matters.” This was the driving voice in my head throughout grade 10, 11 and 12. Doing something great today is not enough, such a thing has to be done tomorrow, next week and even next year. Study until you are tired today then do the very same thing tomorrow. That is how top achievers are bred.

What advice do you have for matriculants who have to apply for places in higher education institutions?

I would like to remind them that, 1 the minimum requirements written on the prospectus do not guarantee that they will be accepted to the institution! 2 They should apply to as many institutions as possible. 3 They should apply as early as possible. 4 If the programme they want to study requires that they write the National Benchmark Tests (NBT), then they should try their best to perform well in it.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

In 10 years I see myself being part of at least three NPOs which are all about people empowerment and rehabilitation. I see myself working in a hospital where I am most needed (most likely a public hospital in a rural area). I see myself travelling throughout South Africa and abroad trying to ignite a passion for education within the hearts of children.

Understanding excellence – what makes an achiever?

Hard work makes an achiever, working while others are working and working while others are playing. Pushing yourself to your limit and unleashing your full potential. Tunnel-vision makes an achiever, not focusing on the distractions which you encounter along the way, but rather on `-focusing on the end goal.

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