Learners from schools in four provinces are off to London later this month after coming out tops in the prestigious National Science Olympiad, now in its 51st year.

A grade 12 learner, Lesibana Rammutla, from Erasmus Monareng High School in Gauteng, came top in the category of learner from a previously disadvantaged school – in Physical Science.  Along with three others, he will attend the London International Youth Science Forum later this month.

One of the top five national winners in the Physical Science Category is HamandisheMathivha from Mbilwi Secondary School in Limpopo.  For three consecutive years, this achiever has been one of the top performers in National Science Olympiad competitions. He will receive R40 000 towards registration and tuition fees at a university of his choice.

The Olympiad aims to contribute towards excellence in science among learners and to encourage them to take up careers in science, engineering and technology.  Thousands of learners in grades 10 to 12 write papers in the Physical, Natural or Life Sciences.  Winners in different categories are awarded prizes such as laptops, iPads and e-book readers at the awards event. The top-performing schools receive science equipment for their laboratories.

Speaking at the 51st National Science Olympiad Awards Ceremony in Johannesburg last night, Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor said the focus of the Olympiad programme was on expanding the quality of and success in science in order to help address the development challenges South Africa was facing.

Minister Pandor says the government is keen to see the success and development of scientists in all disciplines, including the humanities and social sciences.

"South Africa and the whole of Africa are confronted with the urgent challenge of developing our science and technology capabilities so that we are able to respond to the development challenges of the continent," said the Minister.

The Minister told the learners that the world needed them to help devise new solutions for sustainable development so as to provide food, energy and security to communities, and "to ensure that we save the Earth and its resources for future generations".

With the world population for 2050 estimated at 10 billion people, Minister Pandor said that a great deal of work would be done by future researchers and innovators.

Current concerns about climate site2016 meant that the old ways of generating energy would have to give way to innovative and environmentally friendly ways of meeting global energy requirements. This could only happen if the world was able to draw on the collective resources and capacities of the planet in a fully inclusive manner.

"Global scientific endeavour requires the contributions of all regions, especially the developing world, which was excluded in the past," said the Minister.

Issued by the Department of Science and Technology

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Lunga Ngqengelele

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Ministry of Science and Technology

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