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'It's a small chance but a chance that needed to be taken' - SA teen Stuart White pursues F1 dream

2019-07-30 13:55
Stuart White

Image: Sauber/ Stuart White

Professional racecar driving is one of the most gruelling and demanding sports in the world — both from a physical and a mental perspective. And when you’re still a teenager, it’s an even bigger challenge: especially when you have to make time to try and finish your schooling. 

But 17-year-old South African racecar driver Stuart White (who’s also known by his nickname ‘Baby Vettel’) is taking this challenge in his stride.  

Stuart — who hails from Bloemfontein — recently joined Alfa Romeo’s prestigious Sauber Motorsport team in Europe to compete full-time in the 2019 French Formula 4 Championship.  

Sauber Motorsport is regarded as a training ground for future Formula 1 drivers, with the likes of Kimi Raikkonen having emerged from its stable. Stuart said: "The goal is to make it to Formula 1 but obviously it's still quite a tough road ahead. It's a small chance, but a chance that needed to be taken." 

Stuart White

                                                Image: Supplied by Stuart White / Sauber 

Getting an education while racing Up until the end of his Grade 9 year in 2016, Stuart was still a learner at a school in Bloemfontein. However, his ever-demanding training and racing schedules, as well as his need to constantly travel various parts of the globe, meant that it was becoming harder for him to stay in school.

Stuart said: "At the end of Grade 9, my family and I decided that I needed to go the home education route to help me get a more flexible programme, and also to help me keep up with my school work. 

"It doesn't matter where I am in the world - I can still keep up with my studies. So, it's really helped me to take my racing career to the next level." 

Stuart White

                                                Image: Supplied by Stuart White 

Stuart previously signed up with South Africa’s biggest home education provider Impaq  to continue with subjects such as English, Afrikaans and Business Studies. Amid joining Sauber Motorsport, Stuart has temporarily paused his education but he intends to register with Impaq next year again to complete his matric.  

The flexibility of home education provides Stuart with this option. In addition, when Stuart restarts his studies, he won’t miss out on his education as Impaq follows the same CAPS-aligned curriculum that every school in the country follows.  

Stuart White

                                                  Image: Supplied by Stuart White / Sauber

Learners who use Impaq’s solutions also fall under examination bodies overseen by Umalusi, such as the South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI) or the IEB. 

"It's been great working through Impaq’s offering and I'm very thankful that I can complete my studies in this way in future," says Stuart. Growing home education trend Home education has not only become a strong viable alternative for talented young sports stars like Stuart, but also for a wider array of South African children than ever before. 

Stuart White

                                                  Image: Supplied by Stuart White / Sauber 

Ever since being legalised in South Africa in 1996, home education (also referred to as homeschooling) has been on a steady growth path. According to the 2011 census, there were 56 857 home education learners in the country.

Recent unverified estimates have put this number at 100 000 learners. As the country’s biggest home education provider, Impaq had just 400 learners in 2002 — but this number grew to 16 000 learners in 2018 and is expected to surpass 18 000 in 2019.

Read more on:    f1 motorsport

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