Twelve-year-old Alinafe Chulu, whose future was nearly dashed by the Covid-19 crisis, has been named the top performer in this year’s Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education (PSLCE) examinations.
In an interview yesterday, the Blantyre-based girl, who dreams of becoming a doctor, released her nagging fear of failure which propels her to excel.
Said Alinafe: “There were days I failed and I was devastated to imagine that I was about to drop out, but I made it with the support from friends, family members and teachers who helped me get back on my feet.”
A top 10 list released by Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb) yesterday, shows that the learner from Playdor Private School in Blantyre is the brightest star, not the names widely shared on social media. Besides, she is the only girl on the list.
The list came two days after Minister of Education Madalitso Kambauwa Wilima alongside Maneb executive director Professor Dorothy Nampota announced the PSLCE results.
Alinafe’s parents are excited that she is the best performer nationwide with a pass rate of 85 percent and has been selected to Blantyre Secondary School.
“It came as a surprise that my daughter is the best-performing student in the country,” says her mother Eveness Chulu. “Alinafe’s effort and attitude towards education assure me that she is destined for big things, but it never occurred in my mind that she could become the best in national examinations.”
Alinafe has grown up in a prayerful family of three girls aged 12 to 17 and a boy, six.
The mother says she and her husband, Horad, gave the children education basics, but stuttered when the husband lost his job at the peak of the Covid-19 crisis.
The primary school teacher says her salary could not adequately support the family of six.
“The financial hardship got worse when our first-born daughter was selected to university while the second had just sat for Junior Certificate of Education examinations,” she explains.
The family had to sell some of their property, including land and a vehicle, to keep the children in school.
They also received support from relatives as the crunch deepened.
Alinafe says she saw financial struggles pushing her to drop out as did many girls during the devastating public health emergency.
Luckily, the girl stays a five-minute walk to the school in Kameza Township.
As such, she did not have to worry about bus fare or boarding fees.
Alinafe thanks her family and well-wishers for giving her a hand when it mattered most.
She urges learners to study hard, dream big and respect teachers, saying indiscipline ruins bright futures.
“If students don’t like a certain subjector obey a teacher, they end up with bad grades because they cannot listen to someone they dislike.”
Alinafe also warns her peers against peer pressure.
“Choose friends wisely,” she says. “Don’t depart from the values taught by parents and teachers.”
In an interview, her head teacher Kondwani Kafoteka said he is proud of Alinafe for putting Playdor Private School on the map and upholding the school’s values.