‘Surprised’ by his own success

Pictured are Thomas Hagsphil, chairperson of the Mathematics Olympiad Committee (left), and Andre Toerien.
Pictured are Thomas Hagsphil, chairperson of the Mathematics Olympiad Committee (left), and Andre Toerien.

Andre Toerien from Rondebosch Boys’ High School was caught by surprise when he found out he had made it into the top 10 of the South African Mathematics Foundation’s (SAMF) annual awards held in Stellenbosch on Saturday 22 September.

The competition saw six learners from local schools being awarded for excellence in maths.

Other local winning learners and best performing schools included Herschel Girls’ Senior School in Claremont, Rustenburg Girls’ High School in Rosebank and Wynberg Boys’ High School.

According to the statement, Rondebosch Boys’ High School walked away with the awards for best performing overall school and best performing quintile five school.

The school had a total of four learners who were awarded, including Razeem Parker, Timothy Schlesinger and Daniel Schlesinger­.

“I knew the competition was really tough, and I really did not expect to do so well,” says Andre.

He says this is because a maths Olympiad and school maths have very little in common. He says a maths Olympiad requires lots of time, hard work and thorough understanding­.

“While it is true that you need the basics like algebra or geometry taught in school, the kind of problems seen in Olympiads requires an advanced application and understanding of the basics to succeed. Success in Olympiads and to an extent in school maths requires a lot of motivation and hard work.”

Andre says he previously entered other competitions before the Olympiad and he knew he had to practise different question papers to prepare for the possible questions to be asked.

For him, this is not really a challenge as he says he enjoys problem solving and working on things outside his curriculum.

“If you are the kind of person who cannot leave a problem unsolved, you take every opportunity you get and you will, with hard work, do well.”

Andre is passionate about computers and technology, and would like to study computer science at university to allow him to pursue a career as a programmer or systems engineer­.

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