A UKZN sponsored team won the Senior Section of the recent 2012 SA Inter-Provincial Mathematics Olympiad (SAIMPO) recording a first victory for KwaZulu-Natal in the event’s 22-year history.

Fifty teams comprising 23 seniors (Grades 10-12) and 27 juniors (Grades 8-9) took part in the competition Co-ordinated by UKZN’s Dr Sudan Hansraj, who headed a panel of lecturers from the University which set the test papers.

Since April, staff at the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, headed by Emeritus Professor Poobhalan Pillay, have been training high fliers in mathematics from secondary schools in Durban and its immediate vicinity, to engage with challenging problems requiring mathematical insight.

The youngsters were part of the Siyanqoba Project administered by the South African Mathematical Foundation. Two two-hour classes are run weekly at the Science and Technology Education Centre (STEC) on the Westville campus with top performing students invited to attend, a significant number of whom are from the nearby Star College.

The UKZN Centre is one of 11 around the country, several being based at South African universities.

Four teams of 10 were eventually selected to represent the UKZN Centre at the SAIPMO. Guest of Honour, Professor Sunil Maharaj, Research Chair in Gravitational Systems at UKZN, delivered an inspirational message in which he urged the finalists to join the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science after high school.

UKZN organisers acknowledged sponsorship from the Actuarial Society of South Africa and thanked the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science for the excellent lunch provided for all.

In the individual rounds of the South African Maths Olympiad, KwaZulu-Natal bagged four of the top 10 positions. Three of these – Dhaneshwar Dlaien Sunder, Lloyd Mahadeo and Nashien Govindasamy, all from Star College, were part of Professor Pillay's training group and part of the Team that won the InterProvincial Contest.

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