National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)

The NSTF Brilliants Programme

The NSTF Brilliants Programme recognises at least 18 first-year students studying in the science, medicine and engineering fields. A young man and woman are chosen from each of the 9 provinces. These students must have received top marks in mathematics and physical science in the National Senior Certificate Examinations (grade 12) of the previous year. They are identified by the national Department of Basic Education, and selected by the NSTF.

Who are the current Brilliants students?

Ms Danielle Honiball

Eastern cape

Pearson High School MBChB (Medicine) Stellenbosch University (SU)

Mr Gwiba Nonkenge

Eastern cape

Toli Senior Secondary School BEng (Mechatronics Engineering) University of Cape Town (UCT)

Ms Mia Coetzee

Free State

Sentraal Secondary School MBChB (Medicine) University of Free State (UFS)

Mr Neo Mokoena

Free State

Phiritona Secondary School MBChB (Medicine) UCT

Ms Boikanyo Khoza


Modilati Secondary School MBChB (Medicine) Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University

Mr Tebatso Herman Dilebo


Tipfuxeni Secondary School BEng (Civil Engineering) UCT

Mr Brown Balaotse Kenalepe


Moditela Secondary school Beng (Mechanical Engineering) SU

Mr Jeremias Elijah Lebipi


Tipfuxeni Secondary School Beng (Civil Engineering) University of Johannesburg (UJ)

Mr Matimba Manganyi


Letlotlo Secondary school BSc (Astronomy and Astrophysics) Witwatersrand University (Wits)

Ms Zemfundo Mthembu


Adams College MBChB (Medicine) UCT

Mr Lifalethu Sbonelo Zikode


Masibumbane High School MBChB (Medicine) UCT

Mr Andile Gumede


Adams College MBChB (Medicine) UCT

Mr Simphiwe Kubheka


Emhlwaneni High School Beng (Electrical and Computer Engineering) UCT

Mr Mthokozisi Nkomo


Impiyamandla Junior Secondary School MBChB (Medicine) University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN)

Ms Lutendo Portia Rambevha


Thengwe Secondary School MBChB (Medicine) UCT

Mr Phenyo Tlou Phukubje


Taxila Combined MBChB (Medicine) UCT

Ms Lonia Maphutha


Kwandebele Science Combined School MBChB (Medicine) UCT

Mr Voninga Kwetsimani Maritze


Acorn-oaks Comprehensive High School MBChB (Medicine) UCT

Ms Safiyyah Wadee


Zinniaville Secondary School MBChB (Medicine) Wits

Mr Tshepo Brian Mukhabele


Matsukubyane Secondary School BEng (Mining Engineering) Wits

Ms Lize-Mari Loots


H/Skool Diamantveld BSc (Dietetics) North West University (NWU)

Mr Aaron Bobby Kunnath


H/Skool Noord-Kaap BEng (Mechatronics Engineering) SU

Mr Sinoxolo Ntsenge


H/Skool Pampierstad BEng (Mechanical Engineering) Wits

Ms Rachel Meiring


Rhenish Girls’ High School MBChB (Medicine) UCT

Ms Simone Anna-Mart Louw


Bloemhof HS BEng (Electrical and Electronic Engineering) SU

Mr Athenkosi Khonzani


Centre of Science and Technology BEng (Electrical and Computer Engineering) UCT

Past Brilliants Awardees

The aims of the Brilliants Programme

Inspire and motivate

Through a speakers’ programme (workshop) and tour of science related sites and facilities:

  • To inspire and motivate young talented people with exposure to SET in the field, contact with potential role models and mentors, and advice from experts who can address their concerns
  • To inspire top students to complete their science, engineering and technology (SET) studies
  • To encourage top students to pursue a career in SET

  • To provide advice for successful studies and careers


  • To recognise and honour top performers some of whom have received very little acknowledgement, especially in disadvantaged areas and schools. The recognition includes publicity for the Brilliants Programme, the students and their provinces. The details of the programme and the winning students are also part of the annual NSTF Awards Who’s Who’ booklet
  • To reward top performers with sponsored travel and accommodation, a special ceremony, and recognition by representatives of government departments and sponsors


  • To identify top performers studying without bursaries – simply because they did not know they could apply for bursaries in Grade 12 – and assist them in finding bursaries
  • Awarding bursaries sponsored by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI)

The reason for the Brilliants Programme

Top results in Grade 12 do not guarantee success. Many school leavers and even graduates struggle to find appropriate work and direction in their lives. This is a concern for SET industries, professionals and for the NSTF. In particular, the NSTF tries to encourage students to complete their studies in science or engineering as far as they possibly can (preferably up to PhD level). The NSTF also tries to motivate students to find their way into one of the many interesting and fulfilling positions in the National System of Innovation (which includes scientific research, engineering and industry).

How the Brilliants awardees are chosen

The Brilliants Programme consists of 18 bright first year students with a passion for science, registered at South African universities for SET-related qualifications. The NSTF requests the lists of top performers in physical science (in the National Senior Certificate) from all the provincial education departments. Two top students from each province are selected, a young man and woman, based on their performance in both mathematics and physical science, as well as their chosen field of study. Only students who matriculated at public schools are selected. The Ministry and Department of Basic Education have given their support to the Brilliants Programme for many years.

Valuable programme

The Brilliants programme (previously called the Education Recognition Programme) has proven to be a valuable project. Many deserving previously-disadvantaged students have been inspired and motivated, as well as often helped to obtain bursaries.

Why the NSTF runs the Brilliants programme

It is critical for the future of our country that enough good passes in matric maths and physical science are produced. Furthermore that some of these young people choose studies and careers in the sciences, medicine and engineering.

Make your organisation part of the Brilliants Programme

If you would like to participate in the workshop to inspire and give advice to bright young people, or offer a tour of your facilities, contact the NSTF office at enquiries@nstf.org.za.

NSTF Brilliants Programme 


The NSTF welcomes collaboration with other organisations, such as those that have been
partnering with the programme for many years:

Subscribe to our eNews

Sign up to receive news on what is happening in science, engineering, technology (SET) and innovation in South Africa

Copyright © 2023 All Rights Reserved | National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)