The University of Cape Town will host teams representing 107 countries (including 14 African countries) at the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) beginning on 3 July 2014 when the IMO leaders arrive to set the test papers. This will be the first time the IMO takes place in Africa in its 55-year history.
UCT Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price said: "It is an honour to host the first IMO in Africa. UCT focuses on research and teaching that will help African communities to grow. One of the best ways to develop a country is to develop mathematics skills, which are necessary for producing well-qualified scientists, engineers and mathematicians."
UCT is the host of an annual Mathematics Competition for Western Cape high schools. The South African team for IMO 2014 comprises five students from the Western Cape '“ Yaseen Mowzer (Grade 10) of Fairbairn College, Tae Jun Park (Grade 11) of Rondebosch Boys' High School, Sanjiv Ranchod (Grade 10) of Westerford High School, Bronson Rudner (Grade 10) of South African College High School, and Robin Visser (Grade 12) of St George's Grammar School '“ and Nashlen Govindasamay (Grade 12) of Star College, Durban.
Professor John Webb of UCT's Mathematics Department describes the IMO as a "fearsomely tough intellectual contest. The mathematical content is not much more than matric maths, but the problems are very difficult. Mathematics Olympiads focus on the top end of the education spectrum".
Professor Webb, who is the Director of IMO 2014 and of UCT's Mathematics Competition, added: "In 1992, South Africa's first year in the IMO, our team came bottom of the rankings. But in 1994 we got it right: we came 27th out of 69 countries and won three bronze medals. Since then we have come 27th three times, and have won a total of 46 medals (one gold, nine silver, 36 bronze) and 43 honourable mentions. Our record is respectable '“ but could still be better."
The teams of high school students will arrive on 6 July and the IMO, which is presented by the South African Mathematics Foundation in partnership with UCT, will hold its opening ceremony on the evening of 7 July in Jameson Hall, UCT Upper Campus.
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