National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)

Yandisa Ndongeni

Yandisa is from Eastern Cape and is studying BEng (Mining Engineering) at the University of Pretoria.


My biggest challenge was time management. I overcame this mostly by disciplining myself into following the time tables I set up.


Tell us a bit about your school: how many pupils are enrolled there, what is special about it, is it in a rural or urban area, etc.

I attended Khanyisa High School in Mthatha. It has roughly 2 000 pupils, ranging from grade 7 learners to matriculants. It is a Catholic school situated in a rural area. What is special about it is that it enrols students on a first-come, first-served basis because it believes that, regardless of a person’s academic background, the school is capable of bringing out the best in them and providing equal opportunity to excel, even for those who lack a solid academic foundation.

What were the biggest challenges you encountered at school that made it difficult for you to excel in maths and science? What did you do to overcome these challenges?

My biggest challenge was time management. I overcame this mostly by disciplining myself into following the time tables I set up. It is easy to set up a time table but the hard part is sticking to it, and that is what I worked at the most.

What advice do you have for matriculants who have to apply for places at higher education institutions?

They should not make blind choices when selecting a university or college course. In the short time that I have been at university I have seen a lot of people changing from course to course because they are uncertain of what they really want. Once you have matriculated from high school your studies are not a game of chance and you cannot afford wasting your time on something you will later realise was not meant for you. The main point is that you should be sure of the direction you want to take career-wise.

Where do you see yourself five years from now, in terms of your studies/career?

Five years from now I want to be doing my honours and I will most probably be on the three-year graduate development programme that mining graduates undergo.

When/how did you realise you enjoyed science and mathematics more than your other school subjects? Did anyone play an important part in this, such as a teacher, parent or other role models?

I realised that I loved science in grade nine, in 2010. A teacher of mine at the time suggested that I participate in the school science fair and surprisingly I enjoyed the preparation of the science project more than the showcasing day itself. From then on I have loved science and mathematics. What has motivated me the most is the encounters I have had with people who have a scientific insight into the things we see and use in our everyday lives.

What/who inspires you?

I am inspired mostly by the students I work with. I get more clear sighted when I am working with a person who has similar goals to mine and they sometimes serve as a reminder of how far you have got and how much you still have to grow.

Why did you choose the course you are studying now?

I chose mining engineering because the industry is still in its infancy in Africa, compared to other continents. Although South Africa has so much wealth in minerals we still depend on other countries for certain aspects of production. There is a lot of room for development in the local mining industry and this provides more opportunity for individuals such as myself to be part of a team that will bring progress to mining in Africa.

Any other stories/tips/ideas/advice you would like to share that would be helpful to learners in Grades 11 and 12?

They should participate in every school activity that they possibly can because that is where you get exposure and the opportunity to realise your strengths. You also get to know what suits you best and that will be very helpful when you have to make choices regarding which career path to take.

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