Fortune Khoza, of Acorn to Oaks Combined School in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, changed schools and moved out of home to prepare for the biggest year of his schooling career.

On Tuesday he realised his hard work had paid off as he was among the top 33 out of more than 700,000 matriculants in the country who were honored by the department of basic education.

The group of top achievers had a breakfast in their honor with basic education minister Angie Motshekga.

Khoza said he had moved to another school because he believed it would give him better opportunities. This school was quite a distance from his home.

“I had to find a place where I could stay. I rented a one-room house where I was staying with another guy, a friend. We were studying together but at one point, he went to the school camp and I decided not to go. They were on a different pace than the pace I was working on,” Khoza said.

During this time he studied, cooked and cleaned for himself.

“I was not good in math but I was good in other subjects. I went to get help from a guy called Harvey. He assisted me.”

Khoza said he tried to remain a step ahead of his classmates.

He managed to finish going through the math syllabus for his matric year by the end of 2018. This was shortly after he passed grade 11. He finished the physical syllabus by January 2019.

“My accounting teacher was a dedicated teacher. He managed to finish the syllabus by February and we were just going through [previous year final] papers,” Khoza said.

Deputy education minister Makgabo Reginah Mhaule took to the podium and said in September she had visited a school in Mpumalanga where Khoza was among the pupils.

Mhaule said when she asked which pupils believed they would be among the top matric achievers to be honored, Khoza had lifted up his hand.

On Tuesday, Mhaule said Khoza had reminded her of the promise he had made that he would be there.

Khoza’s subjects included mathematics, physical sciences, accounting agriculture, life orientation, Xistonga and English.

He was hoping to studying  actuarial sciences at the University of Cape Town.

“I see myself being an actuary at the Airports Company South Africa,” Khoza said.