The first intake of students who successfully participated in the School of Public Leadership's inaugural Advanced Diploma in Public Accountability programme graduated on 16 December 2020.
The programme, which is offered within Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Economic Management and Sciences and was introduced for the first time in 2020, provides access to higher education and qualifications for further career development within the public sector. Many public sector employees lack qualifications at the required level to provide them with opportunities for career advancement into the public management ranks. This programme helps by vertically bridging the gap between a diploma (NQF 6) and public management postgraduate studies (NQF 8).
Programme head Deyana Isaacs says the interest from students for participation in the 2020 programme had been very positive and it just confirms the necessity for and quality of this programme.
They initially aimed to accommodate 25 students for the first intake but eventually enrolled 23. Of that number, 19 will graduate this year and two in March 2021.
She says they are very proud of their first graduates who persevered and completed their studies under very difficult circumstances.
“Most of our students work within the public sector and they took up the challenge of online learning, while having to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects in their respective municipalities and other government departments," says Isaacs. “We commend them and are very proud of their achievement."
Top student Megan Swanson (previously Williams), a project administrator in the Resilience Department of the City of Cape Town, said the course not only gave her insight into the public sector, but also an opportunity for promotion and career growth.
“The Diploma in Public Accountability was listed as a scarce skill and it stood out for me specifically because it relates to public leadership, and I knew it would open doors for me. I can now also study further toward my honours in Public Administration," she said.
Swanson added that she would definitely recommend the course to any student that would like to further their knowledge in the public sector arena.
“The course material and lecturers were current and came with a wealth of knowledge and experience that we could learn from," she commented.
Dowayne Koopman, an administrative officer for the City of Cape Town based in Pinelands, said the course content resonated with him because of his current position and previous studies (he has a BTech in Public Management from CPUT).
“As a public official I believe that we should always strive to better ourselves in order to contribute to the betterment of the communities that we serve − and that is what I found in this course. Personal dignity and integrity was one of the modules that taught me how my everyday actions could contribute to the change that we require in South Africa to truly move forward," he said.
Rafieq Latief, an administrative officer at the City of Cape Town, said he enquired at a few education institutions in a bid to take the next step in his academic path.
“Stellenbosch University, through the Advanced Diploma in Public Accountability, presented a perfect opportunity to do just that. Having done a shorter course at SU before, I was aware of the professional manner in which the staff conduct themselves and their business. Hence it was a fitting choice for me. The staff always made us feel comfortable and supported us in our academic journey. I am honoured to be associated with the Stellenbosch University family."
The closing date for applications for the 2021 intake for the Advanced Diploma in Public Accountability is 15 February 2021. The first semester of classes will start in March at Stellenbosch University's Bellville Park Campus.