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Lotus River learner takes top honours in the Western Cape

Claremont High School matriculant Uri Engelbrecht did it for the Western Cape when he was named the third best performer nationally – and tops in the province – beating out more than 550 other Engen Maths and Science Schools (EMSS) participants.

Aged just 17, the Lotus River learner attributes his excellent 2017 matric results to the crucial extra classes provided by the Engen-backed initiative. He began his engineering and mechatronics studies at Stellenbosch University earlier this month.

Delighted to learn he cracked a position in the programme’s top three, Uri says he was among many learners at his school who had benefited from EMSS classes, held weekly at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology every Saturday morning during term time.


Uri Engelbrecht took first place in the Western Cape with Zakiyyah Petersen who took second place

He scored 92% for science and 95% for maths, results he says helped secure a four-year bursary covering his tuition and residence fees in Stellenbosch. He achieved seven distinctions in the nine subjects he wrote for matric.

The Engen Maths and Science Schools, which operates not only in the Western Cape but also in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and in the Eastern Cape, aim to address key national skills shortages in engineering and other technical fields.

Uri was among six Western Cape learners to make it on to the top 10 national EMSS list. A total 46 of the 49 participating learners in the province also achieved Bachelor passes.

Other Western Cape pupils on the top 10 list included Uri’s fellow Claremont High learner Zakiyyah Petersen who came fourth, Meeka-el Hendricks of Livingstone High School (6th), Shazia Amoo of Rylands High School (8th), Raeesah Kenny of Islamia Girls’ College (9th), and Huda Adams of South Peninsula High School, who took 10th position.

They all agree that taking advantage of the extra Engen sponsored classes in maths, science and English, offered an exceptional opportunity that helped cement their excellent year-end results.

“They really built my confidence. By Grade 11, I was selling everyone on the classes because they were helping me so much,” says 18-year-old Zakiyyah, a resident of Mitchell’s Plain.  Along with Uri she is attending Stellenbosch University and studying civil engineering.

“We are so incredibly proud of Uri and all the other Western Cape learners who epitomise the quality of the young people we work with around the country every year,” says Adhila Hamdulay, Engen’s Corporate Social Investment Manager.

“Our ultimate reward is to help set them up to pursue stimulating careers in maths and science-related fields that won’t only benefit them personally, but also the economy as a whole.”

Uri says the EMSS classes helped him enormously because they gave him a chance to get more practice thanks to more hours spent on difficult topics in not only maths and science, but also in English.

“I learnt something new every week, which really helped me up my final results. I was already performing well at school, but I wanted to do better, and that’s the boost I got from the extra learning,” he adds.

There are currently nine EMSS schools across South Africa, all providing a high-quality learning experience, including teaching and educational materials, for learners from Grade 10 to 12. Overall, the EMSS matric class of 2017 attained an impressive 94% pass rate, with the Cape Town classroom, along with two in KwaZulu-Natal, achieving 100% pass rates.

Engen’s Hamdulay says it is extremely gratifying to hear such positive feedback from the Western Cape’s top learner.

“We strongly believe that we have a responsibility to help young people realise their full potential, and we feel enormously privileged to have played a role in his impressive achievement,” she says.

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