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SU-based mentorship programme focus of television documentary
Author: Daniel Bugan
Published: 04/11/2021

The Stellenbosch University-based mentorship programme Rachel's Angels will be the focus of a documentary that will be broadcast on VIA TV this November.

The hour-long documentary, Rachel's Angels: Inspirasiestories, will celebrate the inspiring stories of 13 remarkable people. It will also focus on Bernadino Heights High School in Kraaifontein, one of the top achieving schools in the Rachel's Angels mentorship programme.

Between 2007 and 2016, Rachel's Angels supported hundreds of learners and students and prepared them for the challenges of tertiary education. Selected learners were mentored by senior students from Stellenbosch University (SU). The mentorship programme made a big difference to young people from underprivileged communities and under-resourced schools, often changing the course of their futures.

In the documentary, Prof Rachel Jafta, professor of Economics at SU and founder of the mentorship programme, shares the stories of the 13 mentees and their mentors. These success stories are told from the time the mentorship programme started playing a role in their lives, to where they are today.

“Given the challenges facing both the South African economy and the education system, the programme supported learners in schools that lacked resources. The goal was to improve their academic performance and equip them with the skills needed to succeed at tertiary level," explains Jafta.

Jafta is passionate about education and its development. She herself is no stranger to hardship. There was a time when she had to work in a fruit processing factory during the holidays to pay her university fees. Her father stood squarely behind her, and his support was one of the reasons why she founded the mentorship programme. Today she is not only a professor of Economics, but also a board member of Naspers, chairperson of the Media24 board and head of the Cape Town Carnival Trust.

Some of the 13 mentors and mentees that will feature in the documentary are:

  • Dr Adriaan Engelbrecht, senior lecturer in the Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology at the University of the Western Cape, who has been involved with Rachel's Angels as a mentor since 2007 when he guided learners who were struggling with challenges that were similar to his own.
  • Khanyiso Jonas, a lecturer in the Department of Linguistics at the University of the Western Cape, who through her role as mentor found that her students' journeys resonated with her, and she learnt about herself as a leader.
  • Mentee Anthony Huisamen obtained his BCom degree in 2020 and is currently the financial director at Radio West Coast. He struggled with the pressure of being the first member of his family to attend university and this led to an overwhelming fear of failure. However, his adjustment was made easier by the preparation and exposure provided by the Rachel's Angels mentorship programme.
  • Mentor Anastasia Kim Gordon who teaches mathematics at Bernadino Heights High School – the same school where she used to be a Rachel's Angels mentor. Her work as a mentor earned her a recruitment bursary from SU.
  • Calumet Links who became involved with the mentorship programme as an undergraduate and went on to complete his PhD in Economics at SU in 2021.
  • Siziphiwe Dinwa, who now works as an agricultural technical advisor, was a mentor in the programme while studying for her MSc degree in Soil Science (2018) at SU.
  • Jerobiam Julies who obtained his MSc in Agricultural Sciences in 2018 after the mentorship programme helped develop his character and lead him to approach tertiary education with confidence. In 2020 he joined a German biotechnology firm where he is the international sales manager and representative, and the business development manager for the Middle East and North Africa.

The broadcast times for Rachel's Angels: Inspirasiestories are: Monday 8 Nov at 21:00; Wednesday 10 Nov at 17:30; Saturday 13 Nov at 19:00; Sunday 14 Nov at 20:30; Tuesday 16 Nov at 17:30; Friday 19 Nov at 20:00; Monday 22 Nov at 17:30; Wednesday 24 Nov at 21:00; Saturday 27 Nov at 22:00; Sunday 28 Nov at 21:30; and Tuesday 30 Nov at 17:30.