South Africa’s foremost science Olympiad, the National Science Olympiad, continues to unearth outstanding young talent. This year, some of South Africa’s top young science boffins will be off to London after trouncing 37 000 learners in the 2017 National Science Olympiad.


Anza Tshipetane from Mbilwi Secondary School, Jialiang Yu from Crawford College Pretoria, Amenta Sibi from King Edward College and Nicholas Muller from Redhill School will attend the London International Youth Science Forum in the United Kingdom.  The top national performers also stand a chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip to Australia for the National Youth Science Forum.


The National Science Olympiad is one of the flagship projects of the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA). Since 2005, the project has offered learners in grades 10 to 12 an exciting opportunity to compete in science with fellow learners from South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Namibia. This year's competition also included learners from Harmony Gold mining areas in Gauteng, North West and the Free State.


The competition comprises an annual examination and learners can choose to write either the Physical Science or Life Science papers. The main aim of the competition is to identify talent, encourage excellence in science education and stimulate interest in the sciences. It seeks to inspire young people to consider careers in science and technology.


Over 35 prizes were awarded to outstanding schools and learners at the 53rd National Science Olympiad Awards Ceremony at the Gallagher Convention Centre on 6 July 2017.


The Awards Ceremony honored the top young science learners in various categories such as the top winners for Life Science and Physical Science, top girl learners and top learners from previously disadvantaged schools.


Freddy Mwaisyange, from the African Leadership Academy, was the top achiever in the Life Science paper with a score of 75%, while Angus Thiring, from Bishops High School, was the top achiever in the Physical Science paper with a score of 94%.


Mbilwi Secondary School in Limpopo was awarded as school with the highest participation, and Derek Kobe Senior Secondary School, also in Limpopo, had the second highest participation.


"South Africa and the African continent need to develop strategies to increase the number of young people competent in Mathematics and Science and ready to play a role in science, technology and engineering", said the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, who presented the awards at the ceremony. The Minister indicated that the Olympiad is an important means of encouraging young people to become scientists, while also recognising their hard work.


Minister Pandor expressed her optimism about the future of youth in the country. She added that South African research councils are the envy of the world and the ideal places for the learners to start their science careers.


"It is in these institutions and in our universities that we hope you will develop the solutions to the issues I raised earlier... The Olympiad plays a critical role in shaping a new future for you and for South Africa", she concluded.


Dr Tozama Qwebani-Ogunleye, Project Manager at Vaal University of Technology's Institute of Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Medicine-Dihlare, encouraged the learners and schools that took part in the Olympiad indicating that it is a good platform to display their talents.


Dr Beverley Damonse, National Research Foundation Group Executive: Science Engagement and Corporate Relations, praised the learners and schools for their achievements and cited Conrad Strydom of Hermanus High School, an overall top achiever in 2016, as an example.


Speaking on behalf of learners, Thimna Sotyato, a grade 12 learner from Stirling High School in East London, urged SAASTA to increase the participation of schools in rural areas to ensure that every child, regardless of background, is given a chance to realise their potential.


SAASTA Managing Director, Dr Jabu Nukeri, thanked Harmony Gold for their continued support despite tough trading conditions in the mining sector. The gold mining company has sponsored the Olympiad for the past eight years.


Issued by the Department of Science and Technology.

For more information, contact David Mandaha on 072 126 8910.