Eastern Cape matriculant Lutho Jimana did not let his long daily walk to school, his overcrowded home where it was difficult to study, nor financial constraints due to his mother’s unemployment get in the way of studying towards his childhood dream job.
This month Lutho began his studies at Rhodes University that will ultimately see him become a scientist.
Lutho beat out nearly 100 fellow matrics at the end of last year to take the top spot in the Eastern Cape in the Engen Maths and Science Schools programme. Having scored 94% for science and 85% for maths, he credits the extra lessons provided by EMSS for his outstanding results
Every day Lutho walked an hour from his home in Gqala, East London, to his classes at Tsholomnqa High School, never losing sight of his lifelong vision of wearing a white coat working in a laboratory.
He is just starting the four-year journey to achieve his Bachelor of Pharmacy degree, and says he will tackle the challenges ahead the same way he achieved such incredible success at school.
“It’s all about hard work, managing your time and your priorities,” says the 18-year-old proudly, declaring further that he does not drink or smoke, and attends church every Sunday.
He is however adamant that he could never have achieved such excellence without the commitment of the Engen programme teachers, who gave him the support he so desperately needed over three years from Grade 10.
“I went to the classes every week and they taught me so much, especially the parts of the syllabus that my teachers at school never taught me. I realised I was missing out on so many things, and I don’t think I would ever have done so well if it wasn’t for the Engen teachers who filled in all the gaps,” says Lutho.
He was also inspired by his principal, Uncle Sonwabo Jimana, who he says helped motivate him through all the difficult times, acting as a great role model and helping him apply for his place at university.
It is exactly youngsters like Lutho that the EMSS programme aims to assist, with a view to not only see them achieve personal success, but also to tackle the bigger issue of helping address key national skills shortages in engineering, medical and other technical fields.
A total of 555 matrics from across South Africa benefited from Engen-backed extra classes in English, maths and science last year, achieving an impressive 94% pass rate overall. The East London EMSS centre, one of nine in South Africa and the one which Lutho attended, attained a 96% pass rate. The EMSS centre in Cape Town and two others in KwaZulu-Natal boasted 100% pass rates.