‘No ordinary high achievers’ – Investec’s Promaths celebrates 2022 matriculants
The high achievers from previously disadvantaged backgrounds celebrated 100% pass mark in maths and science.
The event was held at the Investec Building in Sandton. Image: Devina Haripersad
Translated, one of the anthems that the Investec Promaths class of 2022 used to sing was a prayer that prophesises: “one day, the African child will progress”.
That day came in January this year when the matric results were released and a significant number of those in the Promaths programme celebrated 100% pass marks in maths and science.
Today, 8 February 2023, those matriculants were celebrated in a plush event held at the Investec building in Grayston Drive, Sandton, as they were about to embark into fields of study that included medicine, engineering and actuarial science.
No ordinary high achievers
But these are no ordinary high-achieving matriculants. They are ones from previously disadvantaged communities and various townships across the country. They were those who attended public schools and experienced the worst of the country’s load shedding schedules. They had almost every one of the odds stacked against them. But they proved their worth.
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It was for these children that the Promaths programme was first introduced 17 years ago by Investec together with various other partners including the Kutlwanong Maths, Science and Technology Centre.
The South African education system has previously not had the best track record of producing great maths and science marks in the country.
According to a report by The Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) from 2013, the teaching of mathematics in South African schools was among the worst on the world.
SA’s public schools offer little help with maths problems
The reported stated that in 2011, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) showed that South African learners have the lowest performance among all 21 middle-income countries that participated.
Another CDE report further underlined the issue as it found rapid increases in enrolments in private extra mathematics classes, which was partly in response to poor teaching in public schools.
But there was a sector of society that truly could not afford the price tag of extra maths classes and thereby had to forego pursuing those high paying careers that required sterling performances in maths and science.
This was where Investec and the Kutlwanong Maths, Science and Technology Centre came in.
According to Investec, the programme sets out to provide extra tuition in maths, science and technology to learners in grades 10 to 12 at select schools across the country.
What first began in Dobsonville, Soweto, all those 17 years ago, has grown enormously and to date over 10,000 school children have been through the programme and in 2021, 355 distinctions in maths and 346 distinctions in science were achieved.
Head of Corporate Social Investment, Setlogane Manchidi, reported that the most recent lot of matriculants – the class of 2022 – saw around 745 distinctions achieved in maths and physical science, collectively.
One of the beneficiaries of the programme, from years past, who attended the event was the recently appointed Chief Economist for RMB – Isaah Mhlanga.
Today Mhlanga holds an M. Com in Financial Economics from the University of Johannesburg, and is also a Fellow of the Economic Research Southern Africa (ERSA). He is a columnist for the Business Day and Sunday Times, where he writes on fiscal policy, monetary policy, financial markets, and investments. He was also named Economist of the year 2019 by the Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals (ABSIP).
At the event, former mentor to Mhlanga, Manchidi, recalled Mhlanga’s humble beginnings.
“Isaah was part of the Promaths programme and I remember attending his house to congratulate him on his brilliant results. As is tradition, they served me tea. Out of respect, I accepted that tea that his family had prepared and they told me something that I still remember to this day.
“They told me that that very tray that they were serving me tea on was the tray he used as a desk to do his maths and science homework. Today, he is the Chief Economist for RMB,” he said.
A suited-up Mhlanga became evidently emotional at the remembrance of the sacrifice and effort he put into achievements.
Investec said that these were the stories it hoped the young men and women present at the event will also soon tell. Stories of how they overcame their hardships and celebrated their wins.