When her age mates are still struggling to enter the university, 19-year-old Noluthando Cibane already has a degree certificate from UKZN in her name with further plans of adding more beautiful feathers to her wings by going for an honours.
Cibane from Umlazi in Durban graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal last week. She started school when she was just five years old instead of waiting till the age of seven.
“I used to stay at home with my mom but she got a job as a domestic worker and there was no one to look after me. She then took me to our local primary school to enroll for Grade 1,” Cibane said.
However, the teachers at Bavumile Primary School were reluctant to admit little Cibane, saying she was too young to to enter Grade 1. They suggested that she should be enrolled in Grade R or Ccrèche instead, but the mother insisted and they gave her the condition that if she fails to cope with Grade 1 work, they will have to demote her.
“They told my mother that she should wait until I was seven to start school but she insisted that they admit me. They enrolled me on condition that should I not cope they would move me to Grade R,” she said.
Cibane exceeded everyone’s expectations by passing with flying colours better than every other pupil.
“I passed well and I was the top pupil in my class,” she said.
In 2012 when she was 16, she passed her matric with flying colours bagging two distinctions in accounting and life orientation.
With the help of funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, she went to study at UKZN.
Her academic experience was a successful one as Cibane excelled in her studies and was always one of the top 10 performing pupils.
However, she did not go about in the university telling people her age to avoid getting any special treatment. She also admits that leaving the comfort of her home and going to university was a scary experience.
“I never told people my age and most of them found out when they saw my student card and they would say ‘Hawu, kanti uyingane’ (you are a child),” Cibane said.
During her stay at the university, 19-year-old Noluthando Cibane was able to concentrate on her studies by making friends with people who shared her views and also by attending church regularly.
She has commenced studying towards an honours degree in finance at UKZN.
Her dream is to open her own business by the age of 25, this means she wants to create jobs for people instead of working for someone.
Her mother, Nomathamsanqa, was full of gratitude because she never expected something this big to happen to her.
“When I took her to school when she was five I did not anticipate anything like this. I give all the glory to God.
“I ask myself ‘who am I that God has elevated me like this’ through my children’. God has really blessed me,” she said.
19-year-old Noluthando Cibane joins the likes of Dr Sandile Kubheka who became the youngest doctor at the age of 20 after graduating two years ago from UKZN.