School programme paved way for Solomon Mahlangu matric achiever

Sibulele Solilo gained eight distinctions in matric in 2020.
Sibulele Solilo gained eight distinctions in matric in 2020.

Despite missed school days and the added stress of lockdown, Sibulele Solilo bagged eight distinctions and a 90% average for matric in 2020.

An alumnus of Solomon Mahlangu Senior Secondary School in the Eastern Cape, Sibulele achieved over 90% for both maths and science.

The KwaNobuhle township resident plans to study medicine at the University of Stellenbosch this year so that he can follow his dream of becoming a forensic pathologist.

If the challenge of living in poverty in a crime-ridden area with limited internet access wasn’t enough, the retrenchment of Sibulele’s father added to the extreme pressure over lockdown.

Start preparing now for the final exams. If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail

Sibulele says he managed to pull through with the support of this mother, “whose strength helped me get through the tougher days”. 

Living by the philosophy that integrity is doing the right thing even when no-one is watching, his advice for the matrics of 2021 is to put everything into making a success of the year.  

“Start preparing now for the final exams. If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.” 

Sibulele says attending the Engen Maths and Science School (EMSS) classes every Saturday from Grade 10 to 12 boosted his confidence and provided him with a better understanding of complex topics.

“We also received excellent study materials and I followed a strict study plan that resulted in a dramatic improvement in my academic performance, which proves that learners who attend the Engen programme will reap the benefits.” 

The long-running EMSS programme offers supplementary maths, science and English tuition to underprivileged Grade 10 to 12 pupils.

Saturday classes are held at nine locations across South Africa, including Cape Town, Gqeberha [Port Elizabeth], East London, Cala and Johannesburg, and Fairvale High,  Ganges High,  Howard College and Mangosuthu University of Technology in KwaZulu-Natal.

The 2020 EMSS matric class attained an impressive 84% overall pass rate, of whom 63% achieved bachelor passes, versus the broader SA matric pass rate of 76.2%.  

Khalid Latiff, Engen’s general manager: corporate strategy and communications, says 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,” Latiff said.

“Starting off as Engen Saturday Schools over 30 years ago, Engen Maths and Science Schools are central to our skills development efforts and to help build the human capital of the future.  

“The programme has worked tirelessly to transform young lives and has, we believe, made a meaningful contribution to a more transformed and vibrant SA workforce.” 

Latiff said the company was incredibly proud of Solilo and all the pupils who completed matric in 2020, especially under such difficult circumstances.

“Our ultimate reward is to help set them all up to pursue stimulating careers that won’t only benefit them personally, but also the broader macro economy of SA.”

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