UCT competition rewards budding mathematicians

12 June 2008 | Story by Helen Théron

Maths winners
Top of the class: Individual and school trophy winners in the UCT Mathematics Competition included: (from left) Maggie Lu (Herschel), Zainab Kamaldien (Darul Arqam Islamic High School), and Jonathan Black (Bishops). They were photographed with Kamaar Frydie (second from left) of one of the sponsors, Africon

They came one by one and two by two, winners in various categories of the UCT Mathematics Competition, now in its 32nd year. Guest of honour was the Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor, who presented the prizes at the Baxter Theatre Centre.

Bishops beat rivals Rondebosch to take the Mona Leeuwenburg Trophy, named after one of the event's founders. Over the 22 years of the trophy's existence, Bishops has won it 10 times and Rondebosch nine times.

The UCT Trophy, awarded for the best performance by a school that has taken part in the competition not more than three times, went to Darul Arqam Islamic High School.

"This trophy is to encourage new schools, and may be won only once," said Professor John Webb (Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics), whose name is synonymous with the competition.

The event started in 1977 as a school-based competition, organised by local teachers. It has grown enormously and usually attracts well over 6 000 budding mathematicians from the province's schools.

"The top students are invited to meetings of the UCT Mathematics Circle, a fast-track enrichment programme, going beyond the horizon of the school curriculum."

After the July vacation they will be looking ahead to the Interprovincial Mathematics Olympiad, held in September, and Western Province teams will be chosen mainly from the ranks of the Maths Circle. Three top students, Francois Conradie and Liam Baker (grade 11) and Haroon Moolla (grade 12),will represent South Africa at the International Mathematical Olympiad in Madrid next month.

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