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SciMathUS celebrating success and its 20th year
Author: Dr Janina Theron
Published: 20/01/2020

The first week of January is a very stressful time for students who wrote the NSC examination the previous year. This is the same for the SciMathUS (Science and Maths at the University of Stellenbosch) students who also wrote NSC Mathematics, Physical Science or Accounting at the end of 2019. Wednesday the 08th of January 2020 was the best day for our 2019 cohort when they received their improved marks. This means that they now have better chances of being selected in programmes of their choice, an opportunity they did not have after writing their Grade 12 in high school in the past years.

The year 2020 marks the 20th year of the SciMathUS university preparation program. SciMathUS operates at the Stellenbosch University Centre for Pedagogy in the Faculty of Education. Since its inception in 2001, SciMathUS has seen over 1500 students receiving an opportunity to access university through the programme. To be considered for the programme, students must have passed their Grade 12 with a minimum average of 60% excluding Life Orientation, as well as obtain a minimum of 45% in Mathematics, a minimum of 45% in Physical Science or a minimum of 45% in Accounting. Once the students have improved their marks, they then are able to meet the minimum requirements to be accepted into University degree programs. After their year at SciMathUS, students pursue careers in a variety of fields, including Medicine, Commerce, Engineering, Education, and even the Arts. Some of the SciMathUS former students have achieved PhD degrees in areas like Neurophysiology, Medical Physiology, and Experimental Nuclear Physics.

In 2019, over 1000 prospective students applied for the SciMathUS programme, of the 105 selected, 94 students saw the year through at the Stellenbosch campus, following a rigorous selection process. Yet again, the facilitators and students' hard work paid off as the average National Senior Certificate results for Physical Sciences, Mathematics and Accounting improved with 18%, 16% and 13% respectively. The support from SciMathUS, however, does not stop there. Together with the academic support, students receive guidance with regards to career choices as well as help with bursary applications and getting settled at University in their first year of study.

The programme Manager, Nokwanda Siyengo said, “Each year is different in SciMathUS, we never really know what to expect, but are always pleasantly surprised by the hard work and dedication of both the staff and the learners. The collaboration and determination made it possible for students to obtain good results. Our methods of teaching and learning proved to be extremely helpful in demystifying the complexity of concepts that are deemed challenging in high school".

In 2020 SUNCEP also wishes to welcome the new Director Dr Benedict Khoboli who brings a wealth of experience from the diverse institutions that he has served. Dr Khoboli has indicated that: “As SciMathUS we will work hard to ensure that students from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds reach their highest academic potential and hence access higher education."