In Conversation with Piletjie Mailula (Pretoria Boys’ High School)

Piletjie Mailula

SSP Scholar, Piletjie Mailula, who is in Grade 8 at Pretoria Boys’ High School, scored more than 80% for Life Orientation, Economic and Management Sciences, and French; and achieved 98% in Maths and 95% in Advanced Mathematics at the end of 2017.

How has SSP affected his life?

“I found out about SSP through my Afrikaans teacher in Grade 5. She saw my good marks and suggested that I apply for SSP. My parents helped me apply – I wrote some tests and made it through. I feel it has made a big difference in my life now, because I am able to go to a great high school such as Pretoria Boys’ High”.

When did Piletjie realise that he loves maths, and what makes it so interesting for him?

“I realised I loved maths when I was in Grade 6. I like numbers and I found it easy. Other subjects are hard, like Afrikaans. Maths was the only subject that didn’t change and I understood it.” He continues, “I like problem-solving the most. Maths rules are fixed and once you know the rules, you are able to do everything else, which makes it easy. Rules are definitely necessary!”

Using his maths skills to help others

Piletjie helps fellow pupils at the boarding house to overcome their difficulties with maths. “I help other learners there, and since it’s from a peer’s perspective, I can understand their difficulties better. Teachers and teenagers find different things interesting, and we as humans remember stuff if you find it interesting. So a peer would know what is interesting for you, and help you to understand it.”

When not working to keep his marks at their stellar level, he likes to hang out with his friends and make jokes with them, or he plays sports. “Sometimes I read fictional books. One of my favourite authors is Roald Dahl – his books are quite funny.”

What are his future plans?

“When I grow up, I want to become a doctor, and I think my love of maths might help me there,” he replies. “I think the problem solving and algebra will help me to become a critical thinker. I could become an engineer as a second option”.