WATCH: Engen empowers youth with opportunities

Published Sep 27, 2022


Quality maths and science education is critical in empowering youth with the tools they need for gainful employment and socio-economic progress. But with the persistent prevalence of under-resourced schools and challenging living conditions, this is not always an easy undertaking.

Partnerships to drive maths and science excellence

South Africa has many big and vibrant townships, and within them there are many squatter camps. These small and crowded living quarters mean studying is a significant challenge for youth who live there, with dire consequences on their learning potential and outcomes.

Addressing these kinds of conditions is a fundamental driver of the Engen Maths and Science Programme. The programme operates in locations around South Africa and has been providing free supplementary maths, science and English tuition to underprivileged learners for over 30 years.

By training and empowering locally based educators to provide this extended learning support, these passionate and committed teachers are progressing not only the academic performance of top students, but also empowering a vast array of learners with significant life skills and expanding the prospects of many who might have ordinarily been left behind.

SAINC visited participating schools in KZN and the Western Cape to learn first-hand from the youth and the educators about the nuts and bolts of the programme, and the impact it has had on both learning outcomes and life choices. From the pursuit of eight distinctions, to realising the need to be the change they want to see in their communities, the learning, motivation and support that this initiative delivers is a significant example of the way in which big corporates can partner with communities to create real and sustainable transformation.

But creating the conditions for SA youth to flourish means not only providing the learning that will facilitate a university placement, but often also providing the ongoing support of bursaries and internships to close this loop. And meeting a selection of Engen stakeholders, from executives who came through the bursary system to women engineers progressing against industry norms, this story gives us a glimpse into hopeful possibilities for the future.


Dr James Xolani Nyawera is the Head of Transformation and Stakeholder Engagement at Engen. He is passionate about the Engen Maths and Science programme and the special attention it provides to learners in under-resourced communities to give them a leg-up towards their future. And with the carefully selected and extensively upskilled trainers, together with conscious interventions that include the availability of bursaries to enable further studies, Dr James shares his first-hand experience of the socio-economic and career progress that can be achieved with Engen by your side.

Salome Peu is a Manager for the Health, Safety, Environment and Quality at Engen in KZN. She reflects on how few women there are in the oil and gas industry, and shares how her choice to study this field was in-part driven by a man telling her she couldn’t. So, she decided she definitely would. During her time at university, she saw an ad in the paper with a call for applications for Engen engineering bursaries. Peu took a chance - and has never looked back. Progressing through the ranks of Engen, she wants to inspire South African youth on the importance of math and science education, and the rapidly growing green economy careers it will prepare them for.

Ayanda Gumede is a participant of the Engen Maths and Science Programme in KZN. She loves maths because it offers no room for error – it’s simply either right or it’s wrong - and this, she feels, keeps her on her toes. Gumede’s education journey has helped her to realise she wants to be the change she wants to see in her community. For her this means staying motivated and utilising the programme to grow the competence and characteristics she needs to move forward in her life, and to actively pursue her career dreams of working in the healthcare field.

Click here to watch all the stories.