By The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA)
3 minute read
11 Aug 2020
9:30 am

Participating in Olympiads helps produce top scholars

By The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA)

Olympiad participation also instils confidence in subjects such as mathematics, which is so often shunned for its difficulty.

Picture: supplied

When asked if your child can take part in an event that takes place outside of the school curriculum, many parents worry that saying “yes” will place an unnecessary burden or additional stress on their child’s otherwise full study routine. They worry that they’ll be seen as pushing their child too hard to excel.

But studies show that taking part in events like Olympiads helps children gain additional knowledge, develop confidence and sharpen their ability to tackle problems at a level that they are not likely to encounter in their classrooms.

Even brilliant learners need extra support: How taking part in Olympiads can benefit your child

In general, Olympiads (such as the South African Maths Olympiad [SAMO] or the Proverto Nation High School Olympiad, both of which SAICA proudly sponsors) are designed to build learners’ aptitude and encourage them to develop a love for difficult subjects such as mathematics, science, accounting, business studies and economics. By taking part in Olympiads, your child also develops vital skills, such as reasoning, analytical thinking and problem-solving. This helps them understand concepts better and in a deeper way than the conventional rote-learning methods taught at school.

Olympiad participation also instils confidence in subjects such as mathematics, which is so often shunned for its difficulty. This has the added benefit of shaping your child’s personality and giving them the resilience they need to face many of the challenges that university as well as the working world presents. In the long run, a love for the STEM subjects can even make your child more successful in life as these are the subjects that scarce-skills careers such as accounting, medicine, actuarial science require for entry into their tertiary qualifications.

And the benefits don’t stop there.

Since Olympiads are application driven, it means that they do not merely test your child’s knowledge of concepts, they also test their understanding and teach them how to apply these concepts in an integrated manner. In so doing, your child is challenged to develop beyond the school practise of cramming concepts and are motivated to think and apply their knowledge instead. By sharpening their thinking and learning process, your child will also grasp the concepts taught in schools better.

Says Danielle Kleyn, Matric learner at Parel Vallei High School, SAMO top learner and the Pan African Mathematics Olympiad’s 2019 ‘Queen of Mathematics’, taking part in Olympiads like SAMO and PAMO “equips you with more than just numeric skills. They also teach you to be creative and understand the thought-process of problem-solving, not to simply memorising work parrot-fashion.” While creativity isn’t often associated with mathematics, Danielle says discovery and progress in maths often means “using what’s already known, then applying it in an unconventional way.” This, says Kleyn is great because “unfortunately, school mathematics is often taught to be used in a ‘mechanical and boring’ way.”

So there you have it. The next time your child comes home and asks for your permission to take part in an Olympiad, don’t think twice. The benefits are well worth it.


SAICA, South Africa’s pre-eminent accountancy body, is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading accounting institutes. The Institute provides a wide range of support services to more than 46 000 members and associates who are chartered accountants [CAs(SA)], as well as associate general accountants (AGAs(SA)) and accounting technicians (ATs(SA)), who hold positions as CEOs, MDs, board directors, business owners, chief financial officers, auditors and leaders in every sphere of commerce and industry, and who play a significant role in the nation’s highly dynamic business sector and economic development.

Chartered Accountants are highly valued for their versatile skill set and creative lateral thinking, that’s why the top 100 Global Brands all employ Chartered Accountants*.

*Source: CAW, 2020 – Interbrand, Best Global Brands 2019

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