Solomon Mahlangu Senior Secondary School pupil Sibulele Solilo overcame the challenges posed by the national lockdown to achieve eight distinctions and a 90% average last year.
Solilo, who plans to study medicine at the University of Stellenbosch in order to pursue a career as a forensic pathologist, said the support from his mother was crucial to seeing him through his studies.
He also thanked the Engen Maths and Science School (EMSS), whose extra lessons helped prepare him for the final exams.
“We also received excellent study materials and I followed a strict study plan that resulted in a dramatic improvement in my academic performance,” he said.
The EMSS, which has been running for over 30 years, offers supplementary maths, science and English tuition courses to underprivileged students in grades 10 to 12 across the country.
“The EMSS programme seeks to harness the potential of talented young people living under difficult circumstances and to contribute to the pool of scarce skills in the country,” said Engen general manager for corporate strategy and communications Khalid Latiff.
“The programme has worked tirelessly to transform young lives and has, we believe, made a meaningful contribution to a more transformed and vibrant South African workforce.
“Our ultimate reward is to help set [learners] up to pursue stimulating careers that won’t only benefit them personally, but also the broader macro economy of South Africa.”
Solilo encouraged fellow students to work hard at their studies.
“Start preparing now for the final exam. If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail,” he said.