Brand South Africa congratulates all the Class of 2018 for successfully concluding their formal school careers. We wish the matriculants well as they pursue opportunities beyond schools, and urge them to play their part to positively contribute towards building our country.South Africa has produced sterling examples of how dynamic, tenacious and inspiring young people can play their part to fly our national flag beyond our shores including, amongst others, Phiwayinkosi Mhlongo from Bona Comprehensive School in Gauteng obtained the highest marks nationwide in Technical Mathematics, followed by Lungiswa Sibisi from Tetelo Comprehensive School, also in Gauteng. Mihlali Fipaza, from Bashee Senior Secondary School in the Western Cape, came in third.These young South Africans show us why it is critical that the National Development Plan (NDP) be implemented with haste, since all young people in our country must be empowered to achieve their full potential which will contribute to our country’s global competitiveness and reputation. The NDP has adopted a “youth lens” in preparing its proposals to ensure young people become active, contributing citizens and will see young people receiving quality education – particularly around maths and science programmes, skills transfer and training.South Africa’s matric class of 2018 achieved a total of 156,885 distinctions – a slight decline compared to the 161,081 distinctions obtained in 2017. The main provinces which contributed towards the distinctions obtained were KwaZulu-Natal with 41,734, Gauteng with 36,113, Western Cape with 24,822, Eastern Cape with 16,109 and Limpopo with 15,748. The three “rural” provinces – the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo – produced a combined total of 75,591 distinctions, equivalent to 46.9% of the total distinctions for the country.The number of distinctions attained specifically in the gateway subjects were:5,169 distinctions in Accounting, compared to 5,040 in 2017;5,828 distinctions in Mathematics, compared to 6 726 in 2017; and8,135 distinctions in Physical Science, compared to 7,861 in 2017.To the class of 2019, Brand South Africa encourages you to take up the challenge to improve upon the 2018 matric results and to grow our national skills base. We wish you luck in the year ahead and urge to seize all the opportunities this county has to offer.