The Government Department of  Basic Education has recently applauded learners with an improved overall matric pass rate. Despite the circumstances that learners have to face whilst studying and preparing for exams, the great achievement proves that nothing can stand in the way of a dedicated learner. The victory of the two learners Mandisa Xaba from Ladysmith, KwaZulu Natal and Anza Tshipetane from Limpopo not only brought pride and joy to their families but also to the organisations in particular the NRF|SAASTA that shared science development and education platforms with them, to explore and learn more about science. The year 2017 highlights great achievements for the two young and fearless women who tackled what was known as difficult subjects “Mathematics and Science”. Tshipetane achieved outstanding results on her final matric papers with an average of 95 percent and Xaba sealed with an average of 95.3 percent.

Anza Tshipetane

Born in Tshisahulu village, Limpopo, the 18-year-old Anza Tshipetane spent most of her time at school even during school holidays due to her tight schedule and dedication. She enjoys reading, writing and poetry. Participating in youth activities at church helps her to stay focused. Raised by a single parent has not been easy but that also motivated her to work harder. She enjoyed sums from a young age and grew to love mathematics and science. She enjoys debating and discussing topics around science, technology, innovation and mathematics.

When I was in grade 7 I was introduced to the SAASTA Astro quiz Competition by my teacher. At the Competition we were told about the National Science Olympiad and was then that I developed more interest on science research,” she explained.

Tshipetane participated in the National Science Olympiad (NSO) and achieved great results at this high standard competition. The NSO is one of the SAASTA’s critical initiative that NRF|SAASTA has embarked on over the year in partnership with the business sector. It is aimed at identifying and nurturing talent in the critical areas by means of promoting science and excellence in science. It has been identified as the key platform to identify and nurture talent across the country and some SADC countries for grades 10 to 12.

“Through the Science focus week in June 2017, I was introduced to some of South Africa’s bright minds; this encouraged me to work even harder. I was given an opportunity by SAASTA to attend the London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF). It was an enlightening opportunity that made me realise that there are no limits in what I can achieve as long as I invest enough time and hard work,” she said.

She will be studying Medicine at the University of Cape Town.

Mandisa Xaba

Mandisa Xaba, 18. Born in Ladysmith, KwaZulu Natal spent her early childhood at a farm village called Tholeni. At the age of 10, she moved to Ezakheni to enrol at a school there. She loves her reading when not busy with schoolwork or practising mathematics and she spends a lot of time doing research on the internet. She enjoys scientific journals. “I love mathematics and spend a lot of time practising and teaching myself new mathematical topics and algorithms, I also exercise a lot,” she said. Xaba is one of the top achievers who won a Gold medal and represented South Africa at the Beijing Youth Science Creations Competition (BYSCC) in March last year. Xaba also won a medal at the Eskom Expo competition for Young Scientists.

Winning a Gold medal at the BYSCC will open doors for me as I plan to apply to the universities in the USA. It will serve as an indication that I am good in science and have some experience with scientific investigations. It has also helped me to develop greater love for science and mathematics and use this love to make groundbreaking discoveries in the near future. I also plan to obtain a few Nobel Prizes for my work and establish scientific research companies in SA to contribute to the economy,” she said.

The BYSCC is a science fair in China where student present their scientific investigations to judges. Each investigation is linked to a certain topic.

I thank The Department of Science and Technology (DST) through SAASTA for giving me the opportunity by funding the trip to China, and that gave me the courage to work hard towards the competition and my exams,” she added.

The DST grants science development and education programmes through SAASTA that enables the youth to develop in the sphere of science research and communication. This is in line with the DST Science Enagement Strategy that SAASTA is appointed as a National Coordinator.  Xaba is currently preparing to go study a BSc in Physics, Computer Science and Mathematics at the University of Cape Town to become a qualified software Engineer and Physicist.

We live in the fast paced, technological revolution era and revolving world thus adapting to change is encouraged. These young and brilliant minds prove that chains and boundaries cannot keep one from excelling. There are no limits. Stimulating activities beyond the classroom can shape and improve results by exposing learners to the bigger world and contributing to our human capital in the critical areas of STEMI.