The Ekurhuleni matric learner blew away hundreds of competitors to secure the prize.

A grade 12 learner from Katlehong has been awarded a scholarship to study at Wits University after winning the Senior Secondary category of the 2019 Wits Maths Competition (WMC).

Phila Mahlangu from Fumana Secondary School was among thousands of learners from across the country who participated in the 2019 WMC.

The WMC is an initiative that aims to cultivate young talent and promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. It is “an attempt to build a problem-solving culture in schools in the Gauteng area and beyond”, one of the founding members of WMC, Jonathan Kariv, told Wits Vuvuzela.

The programme offers schools and Wits the chance to “interact with each other mathematically”, Kariv said.

Regional coordinator for the Wits Siyanqoba Maths Olympiad Centre, Dr Belinda Huntley, told Wits Vuvuzela that Mahlangu qualified to go through to the second round with about 750 other students who wrote at Wits, and won the last round.

Mahlangu said it was an honour to be awarded the scholarship. “Being awarded the scholarship means the world to me. It feels like I have been awarded the chance to go for my dreams.”

He added that he had won numerous awards in the past, but none of them were as great as the one he had received from this competition.

Kariv and Celeste Johnson, another founder of WMC said they were “blown away” by the response to the competition.

“The number of entrants and the passion the teachers showed really was incredible. Phila’s performance in the competition was superb. The additional story here is that his school didn’t even enter the competition! He simply emailed me to try to write all on his own,” Kariv told Wits Vuvuzela.

Mahlangu said he has always had a passion for books and has big goals for his future. Winning the competition has paved the way to reaching his goals.

He plans to use the scholarship to study astrophysics. “I have huge goals for the future, from creating my own research institution to changing the whole world of science,” the maths wizard said.

FEATURED IMAGE: Professor Musa Manzi, a geophysicist and one of the WMC founders, with Phila Mahlangu, a grade 12 learner who received a scholarship to study at Wits. Photo: Provided