Keresha Nair, an alumna of Westville Girls High and an attendee of the Ganges Engen Maths and Science School programme, achieved outstanding matric results, including 93% in Physical Science and 88% in Mathematics, securing her a place to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Cape Town in 2024.
Reflecting on the challenges of her matric year, Keresha says the most difficult part was dealing with all the stress.
“It was a year filled with obstacles that really tested my resilience.”
Keresha praised the Engen Maths and Science School (EMSS) programme, which she says helped her prepare for exams and achieve 7 distinctions.
“The EMSS teachers are excellent. They gave us helpful advice regarding what to expect in the exams, and being around peers with a strong work ethic who also want to excel really motivated me.”
The Engen Maths and Science School programme has been running for over 35 years and proudly helps nurture talented young South Africans like Keresha by providing free supplementary education to over 1 500 learners annually at 10 centres across South Africa.
These centres are in Cape Town (classes are held at Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Manzomthombo High), the Eastern Cape (in East London, Cala, and Gqeberha), Johannesburg (Zakarriya Park), and KwaZulu-Natal (at Fairvale High School, Ganges High School, Hillview High School, and Umlazi Commercial High School).
For this year’s matriculants, Keresha offers valuable advice: “It’s crucial to plan your time wisely, utilising it efficiently as it is limited during matric. Additionally, allocate time for relaxation and engage in hobbies to prevent burnout.”
Facing personal challenges growing up, Keresha dealt with her parents’ divorce, and having two different homes. Despite the hardship, she embraced the adversity, echoing her favourite saying, ‘you may face many defeats in life but never let yourself be defeated.’
To unwind, Keresha finds solace in music, stating, “Listening to music helps me get through the day. It is really comforting, providing a song for every mood.”
Engen’s CSI Manager, Olwethu Mdabula, emphasises the EMSS programme’s focus on gateway subjects — mathematics, science, and English — to help address the country’s skills shortage and contribute to economic growth.
Mdabula explains that EMSS aims to unlock the potential of talented young learners, providing them with the resources and guidance needed to achieve academic excellence and pursue tertiary education.
Recent Department of Basic Education data indicates improvements in pass rates for mathematics and physical science. However, the limited number of learners achieving the essential 60% minimum mark in maths and science for university entrance to engineering, commerce and science degrees underscores the vital role played by EMSS in supporting young talent, especially in STEM subjects.
“EMSS is dedicated to transforming the lives of young learners, who often face severe socio-economic challenges, by bridging educational gaps, and empowering them to reach their full potential,” comments Mdabula.
As a company, Engen champions the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 4 – Quality Education, which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
“Engen is keenly aware that access to quality education and gender equality is everybody’s business, and that it owes it to its employees, customers, and broader society to make every effort to drive positive change,” adds Mdabula.
“It is Engen’s ultimate reward to help set talented people up to pursue stimulating careers that won’t only benefit them personally, but also their families and the broader economy of South Africa.”
Engen is incredibly proud of all EMSS learners who completed matric in 2023.
Engen is hosting a series of awards ceremonies in February at EMSS centres across South Africa where the programme’s Grade 10-12 learners will be honoured, and the top achievers named.
Looking ahead, Keresha envisions a bright future, expressing her aspirations: “I hope to do well and make my family, as well as myself, proud.”
Keresha’s exceptional achievements serve as an inspiration to aspiring students and a testament to the power of resilience, hard work, and determination.
Engen’s dedication to creating a diverse and vibrant workforce aligns with its goal of setting talented individuals on paths that benefit not only them but also their families and the broader economy.