A loud cheer went up when more than 100 Grade 12 learners who had been part of the Hope@Maties tutor project in 2013 heard that they have been awarded recruitment bursaries for study at Stellenbosch University (SU).
This announcement was made at a special awards function on Thursday 8 August. These students have all been accepted into a program at SU and meet the necessary requirements (an average of 70%). The bursary covers the cost of any academic programme for the duration of four years and guarantees a place in residence.
Hope@Maties is a strategic Schools Partnership Project at SU which gives some 250 Grade 12 learners from 10 geographical clusters the opportunity to participate in Saturday and holiday schools. The top matriculants from schools in a geographical area are identified by their school principals and are brought together at a host school. Here they are taught by the best teachers in the area in core subjects such as mathematics, science and languages. The clusters include schools from Worcester, Stellenbosch, Paarl, the Overberg, Malmesbury, Atlantis, Mitchells Plain, Elsies River, the Southern Suburbs and the Southern Cape.
Two more functions will be held at a later date where more learners will receive bursaries.
Prof Russel Botman, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University, was the guest speaker at the event.
"This initiative, Hope@Maties, is a bit like our learners here today – young but already successful. The challenge now – both ours and yours – is to keep going and reach even greater heights. My message to you today is that you can do it," he said.
"Remember that many others have been in a similar position. They, too, started with lots of talent. They, too, had to put in lots of hard work to overcome all kinds of obstacles and challenges. But they did it! And so can you."
Prof Botman assured the learners that the University goes the extra mile to ensure that everyone feels welcome and receives the necessary support. He encouraged them to consider applying for accommodation in residence and informed them about the changes in the University's residence policy and its plans to increase the intake of first-years in residence.
"Many students have found living in res a great opportunity to be successful. So, I would suggest you consider that as an option for next year. Another change we have made at the University relates to our language policy. Stellenbosch has taken an important decision – to work towards offering all our classes in English too. This will allow students greater choice," he said.
Dr Trevor van Louw, Director: Centre for Education Leadership and Management of Stellenbosch University (CELEMUS), said it was great being part of the HOPE@Maties familiy, "because families form teams and together we open doors that were previously locked".
Guest speaker Janine Jellers, Matie alumnus and editor of Seventeen Magazine, encouraged the learners to appreciate their bursaries.
"This is a great opportunity. Grab it with both hands, exploit it. You are good enough to succeed."
Hope@Maties is a project of the University's Centre for Educational Leadership and Management (CELEMUS), the Centre for Prospective Students (CPS) and Community Interaction (CI).
Photograph: The Paarl cluster with Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Russel Botman at the HOPE@Maties award function. Photographer: Justin Alberts