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The Brilliants Programme for our future Innovators

The NSTF Brilliants Programme gives recognition to 18 first year students studying in the sciences and engineering. These consist of a young male and female from each of the nine provinces who obtained top marks in Mathematics and Physical Science in the National Senior Certificate Examinations.

The aims of the Brilliants Programme include:

  • To encourage top students to complete their science, engineering or technology studies, and to pursue a career in the sciences, engineering or technology;
  • To recognise top performers who have received very little recognition, especially in disadvantaged areas and schools, and reward them with the sponsored ‘prize’ of travel to Emperor’s Palace, accommodation in a hotel, recognition by the Deputy Minister of Basic Education, attendance at the Awards Gala Dinner, and a special programme during their visit;
  • To identify top performers studying without bursaries, simply because they did not know to apply for bursaries in Grade 12, and assist them to find bursaries;
  • To inspire and motivate such young talented people, with exposure to the NSTF Awards, contact with potential role models and mentors, and advice from expert speakers who can address their concerns.

Top results in Grade 12 do not guarantee success. Many school leavers and even graduates struggle to find appropriate work and to find direction in their lives. The NSTF shares a concern about these young people with many professionals in our society. In particular, we want to encourage students to complete their studies in science or engineering as far as they possibly can (preferably up to PhD level), and to find their way to one of the many interesting and fulfilling positions in the ‘National System of Innovation’ (which includes scientific research, engineering, and industry). It is critical for the future of our country that enough good passes in matric maths and physical science are produced, AND that some of these young people make a choice for studies and careers in the sciences and engineering.

The Brilliants Programme (previously called the Education Recognition Programme) has been running for the past eight years. This has proved to be a valuable project during the many years of its implementation, because (among other reasons) deserving, previously disadvantaged students are assisted in getting bursaries. The THRIP Programme, funded by the Department of Trade and Industry, has committed to providing bursaries to two of these students every year, and has awarded bursaries for a number of years at the annual Awards Gala Dinner. The Speakers’ Programme which we host for the 18 students the day before or after the Awards Gala Dinner has also been useful for the students, and we have received very positive feedback in this regard.

How the Brilliants Awardees are selected:
The lists of top performers in Physical Science in the National Senior Certificate are requested by the NSTF from all the Provincial Education Departments. Two from each province are selected by the NSTF, a young man and young woman from each province, based on their performance in both Mathematics and Physical Science, as well as their chosen field of study. Thus, the Brilliants programme consists of first year students registered at South African universities, for science-related qualifications.

Speakers’ Programme
A Speakers’ Programme is arranged especially for the students. The purpose of the programme is to motivate students to continue with their studies, and to prepare themselves for available opportunities in careers of science, engineering and technology, on completion of their studies. If the students do not yet have bursary support, we also strive to assist them to access bursaries. We encourage them to continue with their chosen field of studies, and to find their way to an appropriate career path. Topics addressed include:

  • How do you discover your career path and prepare for the workplace.
  • How to develop your personal life through acquiring life skills (self-development, assertiveness, time and financial management, and planning for the future etc)
  • Challenges that students face every day and how to overcome these

A Pre-Ceremony is organised for the students directly before the Awards Gala Dinner, addressed by the Deputy Minister of Basic Education, the President of South32, and the NSTF Chairman. The students receive certificates, and individual photographs are taken with the celebrities.

Last updated: 5 August, 2015