’’ Maths, science boff wins big
Whizz kid Hamandishe Mathivha (17) always knew he would do well in matric, but he did not expect to achieve 100% in maths and physical science.
He never dreamt he would be named South Africa’s top maths and physical science matric pupil of 2015.
All the soft-spoken boy from Mbilwi Secondary School in Sibasa, Thohoyandou, aimed for was to be among Limpopo’s top 30 pupils of the year.
But after studying every day after school for four hours – and armed with a plan and a personal motto that reads “the exam should not test you, but you are there to test how tough the exam is” – something had to give.
Mathivha was also named Limpopo’s secondbest pupil for 2015.
For the three accolades, he bagged three laptops, three smartphones, two tablets, a R5 000 shopping voucher and two modems.
“From the beginning of the year I had a plan. I wrote the plan and pasted it behind my door so I could look at it every time I woke up,” he said.
“My plan was to get to the provincial awards ceremony and be in the top 30. I have always been a top learner in my school, so I believed I could do it.”
Putting in four hours of study daily meant little or no social life for Mathivha, but he says it was worth it. “I just had to exercise restraint for 10 months. Like any teenager, there were times when I wanted to let down my guard – but my plan behind my door kept me in check.
“Parties will always be there, but we have to keep it real first.”
Not many middle class 17-year-olds would shun the trappings of a Model C school for a township school such as Mbilwi, which is attended by many pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds in Thohoyandou.
The school is massively oversubscribed, with more than 2 000 pupils, and its fees are only about R650 a year.
Nevertheless, there are about 30 trophies on display in a cabinet in the principal’s office. The school buildings are spotless and its laboratories are packed with pupils who compete in science expos countrywide, winning awards for technological innovations such as a solar-powered fridge.
Mathivha, whose father is a medical doctor and mother a magistrate, said attending Mbilwi was an easy decision.
“I grew up in the neighbourhood. I walk to school. And I actually wanted to go to the school because I had heard about its exploits [in maths and science] from an early age.”
Mathivha said his school, which has produced top-achieving matrics every year, worked because of its focus on maths and science.
“Every child in that school is there for maths and science. All our teachers are maths and science experts. You can see why the school is producing good results.
“But the principal is also a hard schoolmaster and there is no room for sloppiness or failure.”
Mathivha obtained a bursary from the Allan Gray Foundation and is heading to the University of Cape Town (UCT) to study computer science.
“UCT has accepted me and the foundation will be paying for everything,” he said.
“They will also be teaching me entrepreneurship skills.”
He admits to being nervous about leaving his parents’ home.
“I am a bit anxious about going to Cape Town, but the provincial and national awards will encourage me to do well there,” he said.
This week, Allan Gray gave his family’s controlling stake in the fund manager bearing his name and its offshore partner, the Bermuda-based Orbis Group, to the Allan and Gill Gray Foundation to be used for philanthropic purposes.
Gray explained: “We consider this both the right thing to do and a small but necessary contribution towards a society full of hope for all humanity.”
Mbilwi High School’s top matric pupil Hamandishe Mathivha and his mother Theadora