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Standard Bank nurtures STEM skills by sponsoring the South African Tertiary Maths Olympiad

Standard Bank is partnering with the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) to promote and support this year’s South African Tertiary Mathematics Olympiad (SATMO). The bank is helping to promote the Olympiad and encourage university students from all corners of South Africa to participate, as well as contributing prizes, including a bursary and internships for the top performing students.

“These collaborative competitions help shine a light on the importance of tertiary education and enable improved access to quality education while uncovering new potential and talent in our mathematically minded youth, says Maymoona Ismail, Head of Youth Development at Standard Bank. “SATMO aims to inculcate a love of mathematics, appreciating and acknowledging the critical role Maths plays in today’s technological environment. As the main sponsor of the examination, we are excited to partner with SAMF to increase participation in the Olympiad and encourage development in this pivotal field of education.”

Creating a positive environment for mathematics development

With last year’s matric results showing an improvement in the mathematics pass rate, moving from 65.8% in 2020 to 69% in 2021, it is clear that schools and students are actively trying to boost performance in this subject. After all, Maths and Science are seen as key building blocks for entry into South Africa’s growing tech sector and Data Science capability, and any developments in these subjects bode well for the country’s long-term employment goals.

The first SATMO took place in 2012 and since then, it has grown to incorporate pre-graduate and honours students from various universities across the country. In 2021, the Olympiad saw participation from 214 students from 10 local universities; and for 2022, 270 students from 19 universities will be participating in the challenge.

This year’s Olympiad took place on Saturday, August 20, and comprised of one round of 20 short ‘give the answer only’ questions. The exam was written at students’ home universities and participants had two hours to complete the challenge. Organisers will then mark the scripts and send the results to SAMF. All participants will receive a certificate for participation.

Recognising educational excellence in SA

The top performing student in the pre-graduate category will receive a medal, certificate, and a bursary from Standard Bank. Similarly, the top performing student and first runner-up in the honours category will receive a medal, certificate, as well as an internship opportunity at Standard Bank.

Additional exciting news is that, this year, there’s a chance to participate at the International Maths Competition (IMC) taking place in 2023. Since the IMC started in 1994, students from over 200 universities in over 50 countries have participated. Results from this year’s SATMO, along with the results from the international Simon Marais Mathematics Competition, will be used to select the South African team. This group will be sent by SAMF to represent their country and participate in the international competition next year.

“Standard Bank has long supported the growth and development of educational initiatives,” Maymoona says. “SATMO is a wonderful example of the importance of celebrating critical skills in South Africa, while fostering a culture of excellence. Just by participating in the Olympiad, students benefit from increased opportunities and a chance to showcase their skills. We wish all students the best of luck for this year’s examination.”

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