The Last One Became The First One

By Jacque Tuyisenge
Jacque Tuyisenge's stories
The last one who became the first one By: Jacque Tuyisenge

The Last One Who Became The First One
Being the final student in the 6th grade was the saddest experience of my life. I was not taking school all that seriously while I was in Chibwabwa primary school, located in area 25B in Lilongwe, Malawi. No matter how challenging the exams were, I could still do my best to maintain a passing grade. Things changed by the time I was in sixth grade.

My performance drastically declined since I started focusing on playing soccer. I started soccer due to peer pressure. My friends from the community started coming to pick me up so that we could go to play soccer. I started liking it and it made me forget that I was supposed to concentrate on my studies. In the last term, I became the last one in a class, with 46 students. My classmates began frequently making fun of me. Some of my classmates even claimed, “You have risen to the top starting from last one.” I was not even able to understand the amount of agony this kind of ridicule was causing me.

I was not permitted to enroll in the following class since I failed, because this was the final term. While my buddies advanced to grade 7, I was compelled to remain in grade 6. This was very shocking to me since I was not expecting it to happen to me. Though I was not taking studies more seriously, I was expecting to advance to another class since I was reading some books at night. However, I realized that reading at night alone was not enough for me to advance in the next class. My classmates were also shocked to see me fail since I could tell them that I do read books to prepare for exams and I assured them I would pass.

Since I used to assure my parents that I would take my studies seriously, it was quite difficult to explain to them how I failed the class. My father was quite disappointed in me after seeing my final school report. All the words that were said by my father are still moving around my heart. My father told me, ”It is your education and only yours;If you may fail, then your destiny will be destroyed by your own hands.” These remarks caused me to think deeply about who I am, and ever since my father told me that, I have taken the decision to take my academic career extremely seriously.

I made a commitment to myself that once classes resumed, I would put an end to any destruction that would distract me from my studies. For instance, I promised to stop playing soccer and watching movies a lot to concentrate on my studies. I overcame those destruction by making new friends who were taking school seriously. I stopped hanging out with my old friends who would just talk about soccer and movies only. My new friends were encouraging me to study and we could organize a time in the evening for us to help each other on the topics that we do not understand during the class. When I moved up to number 8 in the class, out of a total of 51 students, in the first term, I became happy. On this particular day, I was overjoyed and eager to show my father my new number.

My father was overjoyed when he saw my school’s certificate. Then my father advised me to keep trying and to put in extra effort. In the second term, I focused more on school than the way I used to do it. I started going to our school’s library in the afternoon hours when the classes were over. This could help me to meet my teachers in their free time and ask them followup questions regarding what I could not understand during my reading time. This increased my way of understanding when it came to topics that were taught in class. I was very excited to be the first student in class during the second term. I could double-check my name on the report card, supposing that my teacher had spelled it incorrectly. Everyone was shocked to learn that I had risen to the top, including my former classmates from grade six.

I was surprised when I found my old classmates from grade 6 the time I entered in grade 7. They started performing poorly and that is why they failed to advance to grade 8. Since I had an experience of failing in class before, I understood why I found them in grade 7. I managed to connect with one of my old classmates and her name was Shekinah. I advised her to start taking the school seriously and that she would soon see an improvement in her performance. I was glad to see that my advice worked. As a result, Shekinah and I performed well in all the next terms.

I made a commitment to myself that if I performed poorly, I would at the very least not move past number five and would maintain my position as the first student in the class. My father gave me a tiny bicycle as a gift since he was so happy for me. I couldn’t believe my father was so pleased with me that he went out and bought me a present. I continue to do well in class, and many of my peers look up to me as their role model. When peers need assistance with concepts that the teacher was trying to teach, they do come to me for help.

“Failure should never disconnect a person from working on their dreams, it should rather be a lesson learned for future endeavors”

8 February, 2023