Southern suburbs pupils take top honours

Bayyinah Manjoo from Star College Sybrand Park with her parents, Bilqees Omar and Ahmed.

Pupils from various southern suburbs schools took part in competitions across the city, showing they had what it took to claim the top spots in maths and spelling.

Bayyinah Manjoo,11, from Star College Sybrand Park scooped the 2019 Spelling Bee honours. The Grade 6 pupil from Rylands beat 26 other Grade 4 to 6 pupils at the spelling competition held in Pretoria last month.

The spellers went through eight elimination rounds with words like quinoa, leprechaun, chronomentrophobia, apotheosis, insuperable, racketeering, incontrovertible and psychoacoustics, until the champion speller was the only one left.

The Spelling Bee was initiated in 2014 as part of the Department of Basic Education’s Read to Lead campaign.

Bayyinah is no stranger to spelling bees and has been taking part in this particular competition since 2017. In 2017 she won the Metro Central District Spelling Bee; the Metro Central District and the provincial spelling bee competitions in 2018 and 2019.

Bayyinah said her parents helped in her success, constantly testing her on the words from the spelling list and unfamiliar words from the dictionary. Asked what was the longest word she could spell: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (pneumono-ultra-microscopic-silico-volcano-coniosis refers to a lung disease caused by inhaling silica dust, specifically from a volcano).

On her win, she said she was over the moon and that her hard work had paid off. “I did not expect to win since there were so many challenging competitors. I was happy to bring the trophy home,” she said.

The South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) held its annual awards function at the Krystal Beach Hotel in Gordon’s Bay in September, where Grade 9 SACS pupils Emmanuel Rassou won the junior division of the South African Mathematics Olympiad for the second time in a row. He was also part of the 2019 South African Pan African Mathematics Olympiad (PAMO) team.

The first round of the SAMO took place in March with more than 91 000 pupils from 1 320 schools participating. A total of
18 858 pupils wrote the second round in May and the best 214 pupils from the second round qualified for the final round in July.

Rondebosch Boys’ High School came out tops with three awards namely, the top performing school in the Western Cape, top performing quintile 5 school and national top performing school. Daniel Schlesinger in Grade 9 was placed fourth in the junior division.

“We are very proud of our pupils who consistently do well in mathematics competitions. Earlier this year Rondebosch won the UCT Mathematics Competition for the sixth year in a row,” said the advanced programme mathematics head, Susan Carletti.

Among the other winners was Grade 8 pupil Samuel Tucker, from Pinelands High School, who received the best senior Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) learner award. This was the 14-year-old’s first competition and win. He said he was honoured and surprised to have won the award.

“Winning has motivated me to try harder and it feels like I can achieve anything I set my mind to,” said Samuel.

Runners-up in the junior division include Alex Sinclair-Smith and Dale Rainier-Pope from Westerford High School, Shelby le Roux from Rustenburg Girls’ High School and Robert Kotze from Bishops Diocesan College.

The SAMF programmes such as the SAMO are used to select and train pupils for international competitions. Some of the best young mathematicians in the country will be invited to an Olympiad camp in December this year hosted by the University of Stellenbosch. From this training squad the South African teams for the PAMO and the IMO will be selected.

Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said the department was proud of the achievements of its pupils who have taken top spots in various national and local competitions. “Well done to all the participants for braving the might of the adjudicators, holding their nerve and representing their provinces with aplomb. We are ever so proud of the Western Cape team.”