Despite their challenges, the Crawford International College North Coast twins were a formidable force, attaining 15 distinctions between them.
Zenya achieved 8 As in accounting, Afrikaans, business studies, English, life orientation, maths, advanced programme maths and physical sciences.
Amera Naicker received 7 distinctions in Afrikaans, English, geography, life orientation, life sciences, maths and physical sciences.
While similar in many ways, the twins have chosen to pursue different career paths. Zenya plans to study actuarial science and Amera wants to become a doctor. Both aim to study at UCT where they have been provisionally accepted.
Zenya and Amera, who placed first and second at their school, respectively, and achieved in the top 5% of the IEB in 6 or more of their subjects, said learning via a computer screen was a great challenge.
“Our teachers were helpful but it got to a point where we had to do a lot by ourselves,” said Zenya.
Amera added: “I’ve always learnt better in class and not through a textbook. The teachers were available on WhatsApp and Microsoft Teams, but it was not the same as having face-to-face discussions. There were times when we needed fine-tuning on certain subjects but we didn’t know the right questions to ask.”
Zenya said the uncertainty of the pandemic brought with it its own degree of anxiety.
“Many of our family and friends fell ill during our final exam and it was stressful. I constantly checked my phone and the news because I didn’t know what would happen next, especially with school.”
She said she then made a conscious decision to step back and breathe.
Amera's hurdle was a lack of confidence in her ability to achieve what she needed, but, like her sister, she took a moment to self-reflect and let go of the built-up anxiety.
“To de-stress, we spent time with our family. We would play board games or chat late into the night.”
The girls mostly studied on their own, but got together to compare notes or discuss certain areas of study they were uncertain of.
Zenya said matric pupils this year should not get easily distracted and should keep their study space separate from everyone else. As for her twin, she advised pupils to take it one day at a time and to pace their studies.