How good is this story? It is a well-known fact that South Africa lacks technical and engineering skills and thus needs to nurture such skills among our youth. If one looks at the amount of high technology incorporated into todays’ modern truck, it becomes obvious that we need more scholars to be exposed to maths and science than we do for them to be exposed to Ancient Greek philosophy or some similar obscure knowledge base. What is worrying is that this is not happening.
Statistics from the Department of Basic Education recently indicated that there has been a decline in the number of students taking mathematics as well as a drop in overall mathematics performance. Recent data shows that only 245 005 matric students enrolled for mathematics for the 2020 examinations – over 11,000 fewer than in 2019.
It is thus that the Engen Maths and Science Schools (EMSS) programme continues to play a critical role in South Africa in equipping students to ensure they have the right mix of skills for them to reach their full potential and contribute to the demands of a rapidly changing world.
The EMSS programme, which has run for 33 years, offers supplementary Maths, Science and English tuition to underprivileged Grade 10-12 learners. Saturday classes are held at nine locations across South Africa, including: Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London, Cala and Johannesburg, and in KwaZulu-Natal at Fairvale High School, Ganges High School, Howard College, and Mangosuthu University of Technology.
That this programme is adding value is evidenced by the EMSS matric class of 2020 achieving stellar results, proving yet again the crucial role played by the Engen supported supplementary maths and science classes.
Despite an extremely disruptive year, the EMSS Grade 12s showed high levels of resilience and drive by attaining an impressive 84% pass rate, of which 63% attained bachelor passes. The Grade 12 learners from across the country received their certificates and top achiever awards on 13 March 2021.
Engen’s General Manager: Corporate Strategy and Communications, Khalid Latiff explains that the EMSS programme focuses specifically on providing extra tuition in “gateway” subjects such as mathematics and science, which are considered critical in addressing the country’s technical and engineering skills shortage as well as spurring economic growth and development.
“The EMSS programme seeks to harness the potential of talented young people in difficult circumstances and to contribute to the pool of scarce skills in the country,” says Latiff.
While the COVID-19 pandemic posed many challenges for the class of 2020, the EMSS teachers encouraged and supported learners throughout the lockdown period by providing study notes as well as support and video tutorials via WhatsApp. Grade 12 learners from all EMSS centres, apart from Fort Hare, resumed contact lessons in September 2020, all adhering to strict COVID-19 protocols.
“While Engen is extremely proud of all the 2020 matriculants, I must make special mention of and commend the incredible results attained by the EMSS’s top 2020 achievers.”
The top-national achiever, Kirsten Prins, who attended the EMSS programme in Cape Town, achieved an average of 93.5 percent. In joint second place were Lindiwe Trout-Naidoo and Thiyashan Pillay, who both attained over 90% averages.
In third place, Sibulele Solilo, a matriculant of Solomon Mahlangu Senior Secondary School in the Eastern Cape, achieved a 90% average while in fourth place, Kauthar Floris, an alumnus of Claremont High School in Cape Town, achieved 90% for Maths and 94% for Science.
“Starting off as Engen Saturday Schools 33 years ago, EMSS is central to our efforts to contribute to the growth and transformation of the country,” says Latiff, adding that “the programme has worked tirelessly to help transform young lives, making a meaningful contribution to a more transformed and vibrant South African workforce.”
Latiff says Engen is also incredibly proud of the EMSS learners who completed matric in 2020 and persevered, despite extremely trying circumstances.
“Well done to all for showing grit and determination. It is our ultimate reward to help set these talented people up to pursue stimulating careers that won’t only benefit them personally, but also the broader macro economy of South Africa.
“Engen is therefore committed to building tomorrow’s leaders and if we want to ensure that the youth of tomorrow are prepared for a rapidly changing world, we need to ensure that they have the right mix of skills for them to reach their full potential.”
Well done to all – and well done to Engen on this sterling programme.