The 18-year-old Duncan Village resident lives by the mantra "When you give it your all, all is what you are going to get back.”
It is what gave the Lumko High School alumnus daily strength to overcome hardship and forge on, even when she felt like quitting.
Sibulele achieved 92% for Maths, 84% for Physical Science and 91% for English, all while overcoming the heartache of losing her father at a young age which, she says truefully, broke her heart into tiny little pieces.
“Then, when my step-father also passed on, my mother had to relocate to Cape Town to make ends meet as a cleaner, and I now live with my unemployed aunt and her three children.”
Sibulele advises the matrics of 2023 to study hard and smart at the same time.
“To me, studying hard is all about completing all your given tasks within the stipulated time and giving it your best shot each time.
“Studying smart is finding a study style or method which suits you best and enables you to excel in all your subjects.”
But it still meant late nights, early mornings, and little sleep to get through the heavy workload during her matric year.
Thankfully the supplementary support and encouragement she received from the Engen Maths and Science School (EMSS), which she attended every Saturday in East London from grade 10-12, motivated Sibulele to excel.
“Thanks to EMSS I was able to grasp some of the content within a short period of time and do lots of practice papers in preparation for exams, all with excellent support from very considerate teaching staff.
“The support Engen gave us was out of this world; from the free bus rides and food packs to the best study guides, I did not have to worry about how I would get to the centre and what I was going to eat.”
The Engen Maths and Science Schools have run for over 35 years, and offer underprivileged grade 10-12 learners free supplementary Maths, Science and English tuition on Saturdays at ten locations across South Africa.
Engen’s manager of Transformation and Stakeholder Engagement, Dr James Nyawera explains that the EMSS programme focuses specifically on providing extra tuition in “gateway” subjects such as mathematics and science.
“These subjects are considered critical in addressing the country’s technical and engineering skills shortage as well as spurring economic growth and development,” says Nyawera.
“The EMSS programme seeks to harness the potential of talented young people in difficult circumstances and to also contribute to the pool of scarce skills in the country,” he adds.
The EMSS programme’s crucial role and relevance was highlighted after recent statistics from the Department of Basic Education (DBE) indicated that more learners are opting to write maths literacy, which increased by 108 642 learners between 2020 and 2022 compared to pure maths, which only increased by 36 419 learners over that time.
Pupils who passed pure maths also dipped from 57.6% in 2021 to 55% in 2022.
Engen will host a series of awards ceremonies in February at the 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 Belgravia and Manzombotho High), Port Elizabeth, East London, Cala and Johannesburg, and in KwaZulu-Natal where classes sit 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 Nyawera.
“The programme has worked tirelessly to help transform young underprivileged people’s lives, with a focus of creating a diverse and vibrant workforce.”
Engen is incredibly proud of Sibulele and all EMSS learners who completed matric in 2022, 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,” says Khalid Latiff, Engen’s General Manager: Corporate Strategy and Communications.
“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 Latiff.