From Poverty to Distinction: Irvis Chisale’s Inspiring Journey to Success

Born into adversity, Ivis lost his father at the tender age of two, leaving his unemployed mother to care for him and his five siblings.


Irvis Chisale, a resilient 17-year-old from the small village of Fernie near Ermelo in Mpumalanga, has defied the odds to become one of the shining stars of the matric class of 2023. Born into adversity, Irvis lost his father at the tender age of two, leaving his unemployed mother to care for him and his five siblings. Despite facing economic hardships, Irvis is a testament to the transformative power of pro-poor policies that aim to uplift the most vulnerable members of society.

Irvis is among the 543,786 full-time learners who wrote their national senior certificate, and his remarkable achievement places him among the top performers, as recognised by the Department of Basic Education (DBE). Living in a house provided by the government as part of its comprehensive social security program, Irvis acknowledges the positive impact of these policies on his life.

As South Africa commemorates 30 years of democracy, Irvis stands as a living example of how such initiatives can break intergenerational poverty. His success underscores the importance of social grants and other support systems that aim to provide a safety net for disadvantaged children, ensuring they have the opportunity to receive an education.

“I had to travel a long distance from my village to the library to access books. The library is in town (Ermelo), which is approximately two hours away from my school. There are no nearby libraries in my area. But, instead, there are taverns. It is very challenging to travel to town to study at the library because I have to be mindful of time as I need to return home early, and also my mother does not have money for the taxi fare,” said Irvis.

In a recent interview, DSD News spoke to Irvis and he shared his aspirations for the future. Despite the challenges he faced, he expressed a deep desire to study either actuarial science or medicine. Already accepted at prestigious institutions like the University of Cape Town and the University of Witwatersrand, Irvis dreams of giving back to his community by establishing libraries and recreational facilities for local children. Recognising the crucial role of accessible facilities in stimulating young minds, Irvis envisions a brighter future for the youth in his area.

Despite the celebration of his academic achievements, Irvis remains mindful of the broader issues affecting his community. His heartfelt plea to address the proliferation of taverns reflects a deep concern for the well-being and prospects of the youth in Fernie. Irvis envisions a community where libraries, not taverns, become the focal points for growth and development.

In conclusion, Irvis Chisale’s journey from poverty to distinction is a story of resilience, determination, and the transformative impact of education. As he looks forward to pursuing higher education and realising his dreams, Irvis serves as an inspiration to many, proving that with the right support and opportunities, even the most challenging circumstances can be overcome.

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