Engen Maths and Science School celebrates top East London learners

Engen Maths and Science School celebrates top East London learners
Liyabona Malangeni

The Engen Maths and Science Schools (EMSS) 2023 matric class in East London has achieved flying colours.

Engen celebrated the effort and sacrifice of the top learners at an awards ceremony at the Lumko Secondary School Centre on 17 February 2024.

The EMSS programme focuses on providing extra tuition in “gateway” subjects such as mathematics and science, as well as English. Explains Engen’s CSI Manager, Olwethu Mdabula: “These subjects are considered critical in addressing the country’s technical and engineering skills shortage as well as spurring economic growth and development.

“While Engen is extremely proud of all the 2023 matriculants, I must make special mention of, and commend the incredible results attained by our top achievers,” adds Mdabula.

Chalking up four distinctions in matric has set Mthatha local, Liyabona Malangeni firmly on the path to realising her dream of becoming a medical doctor. An alumna of Sophathisana Senior Secondary School, Liyabona, attributes much of her academic success to the supplementary classes she attended from grades 10–12 at the Engen Maths and Science School in East London, which helped secure her a place at Walter Sisulu University to study a BSc (Chemistry) in 2024.

Liyabona says attending EMSS classes every Saturdays provided her with crucial support, revision and insights in maths, physical science and English.

For motivation, Liyabona reminds herself that procrastination is the enemy of success.

She advises this year’s matrics to “attack your work from the beginning of the year because learning under pressure leads to poor results!”

Her secret to getting through the day is living in the moment and hoping tomorrow will be better.  “Do your best, and God will do the rest.”

Her dream for the future is to be an independent and strong woman.

“I want to be a doctor. I know it will require a great deal of effort and time. But I am determined to push myself.”

Lwandisiwe Wetu, an alumnus of Tsholomnqa High School in East London, believes that if you are truly hungry for success, you should focus solely on your books and nothing else.

The Dowu Location, Tsholomqa local is passionate about music and songwriting, the Tsholomnqa local aced matric and earned herself a coveted place at Rhodes University, where she will be pursuing a Bachelor of Music.

With two distinctions, including 86% for English, 17-year-old attributes much of her success to EMSS where she attended classes every Saturday from grade 10-12.

“The EMSS programme helped me with exam preparation, making it easier to cope with academic stress,” comments Lwandisiwe.

“There were topics I never understood at school, but the teachers in the EMSS explained the content in such a way that I ended up understanding it. That was a big help.”

Lwandisiwe says although the final exams were stressful and tougher than she expected, she is grateful for the support she received from her father, who really helped her focus on her studies.

Plagued by financial difficulties and the loss of her beloved brother, she says writing songs helped her get through the worst moments.

“Learn to love the pain that makes you grow,” is a saying close to her heart.


EMSS seeks to harness the potential of talented young people to help boost the pool of scarce skills in the country.


“The programme is a lifeline for these students, offering them the resources and guidance necessary to achieve academic excellence and pursue higher education,” continues Mdabula.


The recently released Department of Basic Education (DBE) technical report reveals encouraging improvements in the pass rates for mathematics and physical science, with mathematics increasing from 55% in 2022 to 63.5% in 2023.


However, a concerning aspect is that out of the 166 337 learners who passed maths, only 41 273 achieved a mark of 60% and above, which is the minimum qualifying maths mark for university entrance to engineering, commerce and science degrees.

“This data underscores the invaluable role that EMSS plays in providing crucial support to young learners, particularly those demonstrating potential in STEM subjects,” says Mdabula.


In addition to mathematics, the pass rate for physical science also showed a positive trend, rising from 74.6% to 76.2%; however, only 35 468 learners achieved a mark of 60% and above, emphasising the continued need for initiatives like EMSS to bolster education in this critical subject.

“By providing extra tuition in gateway subjects like English, Mathematics and Physical Science, the programme strives to bridge the educational gap and empower students to reach their full potential,” affirms Mdabula.


Engen will host a series of awards ceremonies in February at various EMSS centres across South Africa where the programme’s Grade 10-12 learners will be honoured, and the top achievers named.

These centres include Cape Town (classes are held at Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Manzomthombo High), Eastern Cape (East London, Cala, and Gqeberha), Johannesburg (Zakariyya Park Combined School), and KwaZulu-Natal (at Fairvale High School, Ganges High School, Hillview High School, and Umlazi Commercial High School).

“Starting off in the late 1980’s as Engen Saturday Schools, EMSS remains central to Engen’s efforts to contribute to the growth and transformation of South Africa,” continues Mdabula.

“The programme, with over 1 500 learners registered annually, continues to work tirelessly to help transform young people’s lives, with a focus on creating a diverse and vibrant workforce.”

Engen is incredibly proud of all EMSS learners who completed matric in 2023, often despite extremely trying circumstances.

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.


“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,” concludes Mdabula.