The year 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the Science and Mathematics at University of Stellenbosch (SciMathUS) university preparation programme.
The SciMathUS programme welcomed its 20th group of students, parents and guardians at the Endler Hall on the Stellenbosch University (SU) campus on Monday (3 February 2020). This year, only 100 students were selected out of 1 200 applications to be part of the programme.
The programme, presented by the Stellenbosch University Centre for Pedagogy (SUNCEP), offers students from educationally disadvantaged circumstances across the country a second chance to qualify for higher education by improving their National Senior Certificate result in specific subjects to enable them to reapply for university programmes.
Since its inception, SciMathUS has seen over 1 500 students receiving an opportunity to access the 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.
Delivering his keynote address at the welcoming event, the Rector and Vice Chancellor at SU, Prof Wim de Villiers said, “You have made the right decision by applying for this programme. Now that we have granted you access, we expect you to succeed.
“You are at the right place to make your dreams come true. It is important to take control of your destiny. We have provided you with lecturers and mentors, you have to do the work," he said.
Motivating parents and guardians, Prof De Villiers noted, “My wife and I have put three children through university and from our experience, we have learnt that it is important to stay interested in your child's development.
“Keep up to date with the things your children are involved in," he added.
Talking to the students, Prof De Villiers said, “You are a very special group because you are the 20th SciMathUS intake in their 20th anniversary year in the year 2020."
Programme Manager at SciMathUS, Ms Nokwanda Siyengo said, “We are so proud of this programme and that is only because of the successes of our students. You have made it; do not take that for granted.
“We expect commitment from you. You will have to commit to how things are done here at SciMathUS, and it's possible that you might not like it, but it's for your own benefit."
She added that at SciMathUS they tried to alleviate the various challenges faced by students when living at home with their families.
“We offer our students accommodation, two meals a day and psychosocial support for those who need it," said Siyengo.
Former SciMathUS student and now a medical doctor at Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town, Dr Lethabo Hlongwane, told the group of students that she had once been in their shoes too. “I was away from home and feeling like a failure after I had not been accepted into medical school in 2012.
“I took full advantage of the opportunities that came my way when I was here. Without this programme I would not be where I am today," she said.
The newly appointed Director of SUNCEP, Dr Benedict Khoboli, said SciMathUS worked tirelessly to ensure that students from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds reach their highest academic potential.