A PUPIL from Walvis Bay has encouraged his peers to continue pursuing their education, despite setbacks in life.
Erastus Handiba (21) from the Kuisebmond Secondary School finally made it to Grade 12 this year, although the road has not been easy.
He started his journey at the Kuisebmond Secondary School in Grade 8 in 2012, and promised himself to be part of the Learners Representative Council in five years at the school.
"Apart from reaching the goal of matriculating, being part of the LRC was my dream because I love leading people, and I want others to look up to me. I looked up to the LRC members of that year when I joined. It kept me striving to go higher," he said.
Unfortunately, the ambitious pupil failed Grade 8 that year and had to repeat the grade, while his classmates proceeded to Grade 9.
"I started involving myself with wrong friends in Grade 8, and my marks started going down. This was tough, as I was growing into a teenager, and was also only raised by a single mother with seven siblings. This is one of the life lessons that I hope others younger than me will learn from my experience. Do not make bad choices," he advised.
Handiba finally passed Grade 8, and proceeded to Grade 9 in 2014, but lost focus again, leading to him failing Grade 9.
"I felt like giving up. I thought I was stupid, but I wanted others to know that nobody is stupid. You need to put your mind on your goals. I realised that and started pushing, but it was not easy to make the change. I still went through bullying and peer pressure."
He reached Grade 10 in 2016, but failed, obtaining 21 points. He then decided to look for a job in a fish factory at the town, where he earned N$1 800 a month, enabling him to help his mother, who is selling kapana.
The following year, a friend asked Handiba if he was interested in going back to school, as the school still had a few places for Grade 10 repeaters.
"I made a major difference at home, and I did not want to leave the job. But I had to choose between education and employment, so I called my mother to ask for her advice. She told me to go back to school to repeat my Grade 10. This was hard for me, as I did not want her to work that much."
Handiba eventually decided to go back to school, but this time he had a lot of determination and zeal to succeed.
Unfortunately, his mother passed away a few months after that. But he persevered, and passed with 24 points, was able to proceed to Grade 11, and is finally proud to be in Grade 12 this year.
"It is not that much, but I gave it my best. Today, I am happy to say that I am a Grade 12 pupil, and also part of the Learners Representative Council, serving as head of sports and culture. I want to tell whoever feels like giving up, not to give up yet. Just keep on," he urged. Handiba has indeed made an impact on those younger than him.
"His story encourages me. I have friends who failed and decided not to go back to school because they are embarrassed. I will not do that. If he could do it, I can also do it. It is a personal choice," said Grade 9 pupil, Bethani Gaweses.
"I look up to the LRC members because they are a great encouragement. I am also making a promise to myself to become one. My story will be different because I have heard the story of Erastus. I will try to be focused, and not follow bad friends," said Grade 8 pupil Johny Amweele.
Handiba dreams of studying law at the University of Namibia after completing Grade 12 this year.