’’ Maths, sci­ence boff wins big

CityPress - - News - SIPHO MA­SONDO sipho.ma­sondo@city­press.co.za 77.8 2011 64.8 2011 68.8

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.”

PHOTO: LUCKY NX­U­MALO

BRAINIAC

Mbilwi High School’s top ma­tric pupil Ha­man­dishe Mathivha and his mother Theadora

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