Western Cape shines in South African Programming Olympiad

Western Cape shines in South African Programming Olympiad

While Johannesburg’s Andi Qu was the overall winner of the 2019 Programming Olympiad, eight of this year’s top 10 learners were from the Western Cape.

Andi Qu, a grade 11 learner at St John’s College, Johannesburg, has won the Standard Bank Trophy at the 2019 national Programming Olympiad, bringing the coveted prize back to Gauteng after three years in the Western Cape.

However, Western Cape learners still excelled at this year’s Olympiad, taking eight of the top 10 spots. The Programming Olympiad, a project of the Institute of IT Professionals South Africa (IITPSA), is sponsored by Standard Bank and supported by the University of Cape Town and the Oracle Academy.

The Programming Olympiad is a challenge for learners who can use a programming language like Scratch, Python, Java, C++ or Delphi. In the first round, the participants have to solve a number of problems using the language of their choice. For the second and final rounds, the languages are more restricted.

Computing Olympiads are a key initiative driven by IITPSA to encourage South African learners to consider careers in ICT, says IITPSA President Thabo Mashegoane. “The IITPSA Computer Olympiad is one of the oldest and largest competitions of its kind in the world, and has been held since 1984. We believe participation in these Olympiads helps young people learn the basic principles of programming and applications, and exposes them to the opportunities open to them through the world of ICT.” “By learning the language of the future, participants are already taking the first steps towards exciting, fulfilling careers in STEMI fields of the future. As the professional body for IT professionals in South Africa, IITPSA works with many industry partners to introduce young people to basic computing, because we know studying STEMI related subjects (and ICT in particular) will help them to future-proof their career prospects.”

Michael Cameron, manager of the SA Computer Olympiad, said: “The Programming Olympiad not only celebrates the top programmers in schools nationwide, giving certificates to the top 50% of the 2 500 participants, it also grows coding talent for Africa.”

The 2019 South African Programming Olympiad, now in its 36th year, saw high school learners from across the country contesting two rounds to reach the finals, where candidates had to use  Python, Java, C++ and Pascal (for Delphi users) to solve a number of problems over two days. Each participant receives a certificate and a number may receive university scholarships, and four of them will go on to participate in the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) in Singapore in July 2020.

The winners were:

Gold medal winner: Andi Qu, a grade 11 learner at St John’s College, Johannesburg won the Standard Bank Trophy. The coveted trophy has returned to Gauteng after three years in the Western Cape. Gold medal winner, Andi, says he likes computational geometry and enjoys “cool, ad-hoc problems” more than the “maths and data structure questions”. Earlier this year Andi represented South Africa at the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) in Azerbaijan. He has school honours for music and academics. He plans to study computer science and AI.

Silver medal winners: Aaron Naidu of KwaZulu-Natal, and Taariq Mowzer of the Western Cape won the two silver medals. Aaron, in grade 12 at Eden College, says he enjoys “entering all the competitions and Olympiads because they provide challenging questions that allow me to hone my skills and see how I compare to the best students in the country.”  Aaron also came top in the 2019 SA Mathematics Olympiad. Taariq, of Fairbairn College, and two-time winner of the Programming Olympiad gold medal, says that using past papers to prepare for the finals gives “a comprehensive understanding of where you struggle.”

Bronze medal winners: Three Western Cape learners in grade 12 won the bronze medals for the 2019 Programming Olympiad: Annekin Meyburgh (Hoërskool Bellville), Emil van der Walt (Hoërskool Jan van Riebeeck) and Adri Wessels (Curro Durbanville).

Also top in mathematics: In July, four of the above six Programming Olympiad medal winners also won bronze medals at the International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO) in England – Taariq Mowzer, Aaron Naidu, Emil Van der Walt and Adri Wessels.


The top 10:  2019 SA Programming Olympiad (alphabetical by last name per award)
Award Last name First name Grade School Town/City
Gold medal Qu Andi 11 St John’s College Johannesburg
Silver medal Mowzer Taariq 12 Fairbairn College Cape Town
Silver medal Naidu Aaron 12 Eden College Durban
Bronze medal Meyburgh Annekin 12 Hoërskool Bellville Bellville
Bronze medal Van der Walt Emil 12 HoërskoolJan van Riebeeck Cape Town
Bronze medal Wessels Adri 12 Curro Durbanville Cape Town
Honourable mention Du Plessis Jean 12 Paul Roos Gymnasium Stellenbosch
Honourable mention Nel Lukas 12 Paul Roos Gymnasium Stellenbosch
Honourable mention Steenkamp Faran 11 Thomas More College Kloof
Honourable mention Weight Jean 11 Curro Hermanus Hermanus


For more information about the Computing Olympiad and Talent Search, go to www.olympiad.org.za