Western Cape learners shine in SA Programming Olympiad finals
10 October 2019
Western Cape competitors earned four medals plus three honourable mentions at the 2019 South African Programming Olympiad Finals as announced on Monday 30 September at the Awards Dinner.
The coveted Standard Bank Trophy has returned to Gauteng after three years in the Western Cape after Andi Qu, a grade 11 learner at St John’s College, Johannesburg won.
Aaron Naidu of KwaZulu-Natal, and Taariq Mowzer of the Western Cape won the two silver medals. Mowzer of Fairbairn College in Goodwood is a two-time winner of the Programming Olympiad gold medal and said that using past papers to prepare for the finals give “a comprehensive understanding of where you struggle.”
On each of the two days of the Olympiad, finalists had five hours to write efficient programs to solve four problems. Permitted languages were Python, Java, Pascal (for Delphi learners) and C++.
Eleven of the 19 finalists were from the Western Cape. Six Western Cape finalists were from Public (government) schools, and five were from Independent schools.
The Western Cape’s bronze medallists were Annekin Meyburg (Bellville High), Emil van der Walt (Jan van Riebeeck High School), and Adri Wessels (Curro Durbanville).
In July four of the above six Programming Olympiad medal winners also won bronze medals at the International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO) in England – Mowzer, Naidu, Van der Walt and Wessels.
Michael Cameron, manager of the SA Computer Olympiad, said, “There is great benefit when teachers enter their learners in contests. A top performer in any class pulls up the level of all. A teacher who grasps this will take time to enter competitive events that nurture computational thinking. 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.”
He added that support is available. “Since July, we have an online evaluator, https://saco-evaluator.org.za for keen learners to practise past questions. It provides feedback for programs written in Python, Pascal (for Delphi users), Java, and C++.”