Port Elizabeth teen on top of the world in Kenya
A Port Elizabeth pupil who refuses to allow her dyslexia to determine her destiny has potentially changed the fortunes of other sufferers and in the process claimed top honours at the 2019 Kenya Science and Engineering Fair.
Caroline Boshoff, 17, of Cape Recife High School, won first prize in the category of behavioural sciences for her project Sakha Isizwe Ngemfundo (Build the Nation through Early Education).
The 2019 international science fair was held in Nakuru, Kenya, from April 7 to 12.
Caroline’s difficulty with reading and writing led her to investigate the possible challenges and differences between privileged and underprivileged children during early childhood development.
She designed a syllabus for early childhood development with study manuals for parents, pupils and teachers, a CD with education games and a box with educational tools, all in isiXhosa, English and Afrikaans.
Caroline said she took a decision to look beyond her dyslexia, instead of focusing on it.
“I never expected to win – the projects were all so good and the standard was very high,” she said.
“I was very surprised and happy when my name was called out to get a first position in this category.
“I knew I had a problem and by virtue of that, there had to be a solution.
“But I didn’t just want to solve my problem.
“I wanted to solve the problem faced by many children who are born into poverty and disadvantaged communities.”
She was one of a handful of pupils at the fair to get above 80%, for which she was awarded a gold medal.
The eager young scientist said this was the beginning of greater things to come, and she wanted to enter again in 2020.
“I want to do a grand finale! I plan on further developing my teacher’s manual this year.
“I also want to do pre and post tests to see how children from underprivileged communities will benefit from utilising the study material that I designed,” she said.
Caroline said she was in the process of finding funding and identifying children who would take part in her study.
“I have a memorandum of understanding with the department of social development here in PE, and they will help me identify children who need help the most.
“The trip to Kenya was an experience of a lifetime. I enjoyed every second of it.
“Other than participating in the science fair, we were able to view the Menengai Crater and visit the equator, which was very special because we learned about it in geography.”
Caroline travelled with three other young SA scientists: Siphesihle Sithole, of Mehlokazulu High School in Pietermaritzburg, Ntendeni Nephawe, of Mbilwi Secondary School in Vhembe, and Norman Mashiri, of Dr Joseph Shabalala Secondary School in Ladysmith.
The trio won gold at the National Eskom Young Scientist Expo in September in their respective categories.
Caroline’s mother, Mariechen, said her daughter’s achievement was a statement to the world – and a beacon of hope for everyone who had dyslexia.
Nelson Mandela Bay Regional Science Fair co-ordinator Marilyn Gibbs said: “We are extremely proud of Caroline's achievements – this is a welldeserved award for her years of excellent research, dedication and commitment.
“Her passion, resilience, creative skills, her clear, focused goals are important characteristics for the success of women scientists for the future.
“We congratulate her on being a role model to show our young female scientists what one can achieve when you never give up on your dreams.”
Eskom Expo executive director Parthy Chetty said: “Eskom Expo is thrilled to be able to provide learners with a platform to pursue their passion.
“The success of this national initiative is evident in Caroline winning a top award in Kenya.
“Since the beginning of the year, South Africa has participated in three international science fairs and has always come away with awards.”..