Stellenbosch University
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SciMathUS offers a second chance at achieving dreams
Author: Corporate Communication/Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Rozanne Engel]
Published: 05/02/2019


“Failure is what you interpret it to be in your life. You can look at failure as a stepping-stone to the success that awaits you."

This was the message from Nokwanda Siyengo, SciMathUS (Science and Mathematics at Stellenbosch University) Programme Manager, to the participating students at the opening ceremony of SciMathUS for 2019. She said this year's students should count themselves very lucky to be part of the 100 who have been selected out of over 1 000 applications.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the SciMathUS Programme, which has given hundreds of students a second chance at achieving their dreams.

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Every year thousands of learners across South Africa who have already passed Grade 12, fail to qualify for higher education, but thanks to the SciMathUS programme, which forms part of a variety of units situated within the Faculty of Education at Stellenbosch University (SU), these learners get a second chance at higher education.

Learners who have already passed Grade 12 (with an average of at least 60%) but who did not qualify for higher education, are offered another opportunity to improve their National Senior Certificate (NSC) results in specific subjects to enable them to reapply for university programmes.

 “SciMathUS is a second chance, because we see potential in you. We don't look at students that have failed, but we look at students who strongly want to achieve their goals and dreams. It is what you put into the second chance that's going to determine what you get out on the other side," said Siyengo.

She also told students not to feel sorry for themselves and to forget about not qualifying to enter university. “One of the most beautiful things about being part of the SciMathUS programme is that it doesn't single you out from the thousands of Stellenbosch University students for people to say, 'that one is SciMathUS' … no one in this room has failed, all that has happened is you just need a bit of guidance to get into the programme that you eventually want to be in."

Dr Trevor van Louw, Director at the Stellenbosch University Centre for Pedagogy (SUNCEP), also encouraged the new SciMathUS students to focus on their future ahead.


“The objective is not only to pass this year, the objective is to graduate and be successful in your profession for years to come. SciMathUS is a bridging programme of a special kind, because the focus first and foremost is on access to university. We want you to be a first year next year and be successful in life."

Every year the SciMathUS programme also gives the opportunity to former SciMathUS students to return as mentors to new students. Claudia Ntsapi, who recently graduated at SU with a PhD in Physiology, said that she felt honoured to mentor students this year and hoped that she could be as good a mentor as the ones she had over the years. 

“When I was offered the mentorship position at SciMathUS, I immediately said yes. For me this is both an honour and privilege to finally be able to pay it forward. My advice to students is to just stay focused. It's not easy but it is possible. Don't look left or right, just look straight, and stay focused."

For more information on the SciMathUS programme please visit or phone 021 808 3483.

In banner photo: Nokwanda Siyengo, SciMathUS Programme Manager.