Top learners show next-generation skills using Applications software

Top learners show next-generation skills using Applications software

Twelve grade 11 and 12 learners from across South Africa have emerged as the country’s best CAT learners in the 10th annual Applications Olympiad, sponsored by the Institute of Information Technology Professionals of South Africa (IITPSA).

The learners were the top achievers from a field of 5530 contestants taking part in the event, which included two school-based rounds in May this year, followed by the finals in Cape Town.

At the four-hour Finals in Cape Town, they were given a large database of athletics track and field performances and required to draft a final programme without events clashing. This Olympiad is designed to challenge learners to apply their knowledge of the subject CAT (Computer Applications Technology) in ways they may not have been taught. It tests inventive skill with word documents, spreadsheets and databases. Since the ‘designated list’ of school subjects was scrapped in 2018, the demand for CAT is growing for the essential skills it teaches for further study, work or self-employment. During their time at the finals in Cape Town, the 12 finalists were led by lecturer Gwamaka Mwalemba, of the UCT Information Systems Department, on a tour to enlighten them on the wide range of courses available in the Information Sciences – including commerce, law and computer science.

Congratulating the top 12, Tony Parry, CEO of IITPSA, said: “We are delighted to see that this calibre of CAT skills is emerging from our schools, and we hope to see them pursuing careers in ICT. The ICT sector needs more young professionals entering the industry who can not only understand CAT, but can also apply its principles to solve real-world problems.”

Michael Cameron, manager of the South African Computer Olympiad, acknowledged the role played by dedicated CAT teachers in the learners’ success, saying: “A key goal of the Computer Olympiads is to stimulate high school learners to equip themselves to participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Africa, and teachers play an important role in preparing them. Invariably those who reach this level come from schools with enthusiastic CAT teachers who are keen to stretch their learners’ skills and vision.”

Parents travelled from five provinces to celebrate their children’s achievements, with Mr Abner and Mrs Rosina Mokgotu travelling the furthest – from Western Limpopo – to witness their daughter Gopolang become only the second finalist from Limpopo to reach the finals of the Applications Olympiad in a decade.


Tapiwa Chikwanda of Michaelhouse (KwaZulu-Natal) received the gold medal and the IITPSA trophy from Brian Schreuder, Head of the Western Cape Education Department. Tapiwa enjoys ‘all things computer related’ and also excels at music (guitar and marimba) and visual art. He was also a runner-up in the Applications Olympiad two years ago while only in Grade 9.

Two silver medals were awarded:  One to Yasmeen Noor De Villiers, of Islamia College in Cape Town. Now in matric, Yasmeen Noor says she enjoys karate, tennis and badminton but does not ‘have time for them at the moment’. Having been inspired by a robotics course she did at MIT while visiting the USA a few years ago, she plans to study Computer Science at UCT. The second silver medal went to Willem Wannenburg from the Outeniqua High School in George. Willem, who thinks he is ‘one of the few people left who find mathematics beautiful’, has his eyes set on becoming a statistician and will study Mathematical Statistics at Stellenbosch University. He also has a national gold medal for ballroom dancing and includes acting and music in his repertoire of skills.

Three bronze medals were awarded. Both of Gauteng’s bronze medal winners intend to study in the Sciences. Avian de Beer of Hoërskool Randburg, who holds national colours for target shooting, plans to study Actuarial Science. Heather Wimberley, an all-rounder from Brescia House with colours for sport (orienteering and hockey) and music (grade 8 Merit for alto saxophone), plans to study Mechatronics. The third bronze medal went to Arno de Beer from Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch. Arno plans to study Computer Science at Stellenbosch University and hopes to one day start an IT training school.

 Winners of the 2019 Computer Applications Olympiad

Alphabetical according to surname in category

Result Name/Surname Grade School Town, Province
Gold Tapiwa Chikwanda 11 Michaelhouse Balgowan, KZN
Silver Yasmeen Noor De Villiers 12 Islamia College Cape Town, WC
Silver Willem Wannenburg 12 Outeniqua High School George, WC
Bronze Arno de Beer 12 Paul Roos Gymnasium Stellenbosch, WC
Bronze Avian du Plessis 12 Hoërskool Randburg Randburg, GT
Bronze Heather Wimberley 12 Brescia House School Bryanston, GT
Runner-up Dominic Grobler 12 Bishop Bavin School Bedfordview, GT
Runner-up Gopolang Mokgotu 12 Ellisras High School Ellisras, LP
Runner-up Glynn Rudman 11 Grey High School Port Elizabeth, EC
Runner-up Faran Steenkamp 11 Thomas More College Kloof, KZN
Runner-up Margot Vlok 12 Paarl Girls’ High School Paarl, WC
Runner-up Megan Vorster 11 Curro Serengeti Kempton Park, GT