Chatsworth learner Tia set to shatter the glass ceiling 

Engen Maths and Science School leaner Tia Lydelle Pillay’s strong religious conviction and diligent work ethic have combined for her to achieve seven distinctions in matric and a place to study dentistry at the University of the Western Cape in 2022.

Despite missed school days and the added stress of lockdown, Tia achieved an impressive 93% for English, 87% for mathematics and 90% for science, marks that allow her to follow her dream of becoming a dental surgeon and ultimately to realise her ambition to break through the proverbial glass ceiling that sadly still today scuppers the careers of many women. 

Living by the philosophy ‘faith without action is meaningless’ Tia overcame a lack of self-confidence and high anxiety growing up to flourish academically. 

“This proved to be a challenge when I had to voice my opinion or present oral tasks at school, but thankfully supportive teachers helped me to overcome this challenge and I realized my ability to be bold and dream big,” says the Chatsworth resident and Southlands Secondary School alumnus. 

“But one must work hard towards achieving your goals and not be lazy expecting things to just happen,” she adds. 

With her grade 11 year disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, Tia adjusted her approach and used a positive mindset to thrive in matric. 

“I felt very uncertain but in matric I decided to take it in my stride and use my uncertainty as a source of motivation to push me to do better.” 

Tia acknowledges the roll of her family and the Engen Maths and Science School in her matric success. 

“My family have always been my greatest support and continually reminded me of my potential. 

“I draw inspiration from my grandmother because she is a hardworking woman who always encourages me to be a better person and stay focused on my goals. 

Tia says the free supplementary classes hosted at Ganges High School on Saturday mornings provided her with much needed extra tuition in Maths, Physical Science and English.  

“The Engen Maths and Science School helped me tremendously because I was introduced to effective new study methods and received valuable study material.  

“The learning environment was very effective, and the highly skilled teachers were extremely knowledgeable about the subjects they teach.” 

The Engen Maths and Science Schools have run for over 30 years, and offer underprivileged grade 10-12 learners free supplementary Maths, Science and English tuition on Saturdays at nine locations across South Africa. 

These include Cape Town (classes are held at Belgravia and Manzombotho High), Port Elizabeth, East London, Cala and Johannesburg, and in KwaZulu-Natal where classes are hosted at Fairvale High School, Ganges High School, Howard College, and Mangosuthu University of Technology. 

The 429-strong Engen Maths and Science School matric class of 2021 attained a 77% overall pass rate of which 64% attained bachelor passes. 

Tia’s advice to the class of 2022 is to believe in your capabilities and have faith in God. 

“But also put in the hard work and commitment to reach your goals and do as many past year papers as possible for exam preparation, whilst always remembering to prioritize your mental health.” 

Engen’s manager of Transformation and Stakeholder Engagement, Dr James Nyawera explains that the EMSS programme focuses specifically on providing extra tuition in “gateway” subjects such as mathematics and science; subjects which are considered critical in addressing the country’s technical and engineering skills shortage as well as spurring economic growth and development.  

“The EMSS programme seeks to harness the potential of talented young people in difficult circumstances and to also contribute to the pool of scarce skills in the country,” comments Nyawera. 

“Starting off 34 years ago as Engen Saturday Schools, EMSS remains central to Engen’s efforts to contribute to the growth and transformation of South Africa,” continues Nyawera, adding that “the programme has worked tirelessly to help transform young underprivileged people’s lives, with a focus of creating a diverse and vibrant workforce.” 

Nyawera says Engen is incredibly proud of Tia and all the EMSS learners who completed matric in 2021, despite extremely trying circumstances. 

“Well done to all for showing true grit and determination! It is Engen’s ultimate reward to help set talented people up to pursue stimulating careers that won’t only benefit them personally, but also their families and the broader economy of South Africa. 

“Engen is committed to building tomorrow’s leaders and if we want to ensure that the youth of tomorrow are prepared for a rapidly changing world, we need to ensure that they have the right mix of skills, for them to reach their full potential,” concludes Nyawera. 

Engen congratulates the Engen Maths and Science School class of 2021 and offers a well-deserved round of applause to all the learners and teachers. #Engencares