It was cause for a double celebration in the Mbatha household when twins Sandile and Siyanda graduated with Bachelor of Science (BSc) degrees from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).
The Mbatha twins attended Bhekathina High School in Emvundlweni, a rural area 30km outside Escourt. To reach the village situated beneath the Ntabamhlophe mountain requires travelling along a 5 km gravel road.
The Mbatha twins learnt responsibility early as their lives revolved around attending school, herding cattle and fetching water. Their mother had to seek employment outside the community and the twins stayed with their grandparents. Although it was a struggle, their grandparents managed to take care of them.
Sandile’s interaction with teachers and friends at school helped boost his confidence levels and he quickly realised the value of hard work and dedication. “If you believe in yourself and that you can achieve anything you want in life, good things happen to you.”
Siyanda said that his self-discipline, dedication and work ethic came from his experience at high school. Support from teachers and fellow learners inspired him to excel.
It was through career guidance and career exhibitions that were organised by their school that the Mbatha twins decided to pursue Bachelor of Science degrees specialising in Computer Science and Information Technology.
While Siyanda gravitated towards problem-solving and logical thinking, Sandile grew more curious about the digital systems age.
For Siyanda, the key role played by certain academics in bringing out his educational and personal strengths and interests was what he appreciated most. “My educational journey allowed me to attain a better understanding of virtues such as patience and perseverance, both of which I had very little of in the early stages of my educational development,” he said.
The twins visit their former school as often as possible to encourage learners to pursue careers in science. Their message is that if the learners are dedicated and work hard, they too can graduate. “As tough as it is in our community, education is becoming more fashionable, and more people have a hunger to improve themselves through education,” said Siyanda. “Lifting others up is our passion as we know how it is to be in a position of disadvantage. Our success is everyone’s success in the village – we will always ensure that we encourage everyone to consider Computer Science when choosing a career path.”
Lecturer in Computer Science Mr Anban Pillay said: “The Discipline of Computer Science is proud of the achievements of these young men. Through hard work and perseverance, they overcame challenging circumstances and completed their BSc CSIT degrees.”
Currently the twins are registered for their BSc Honours degrees in Computer Science at UKZN.