“The 10-months experience at the Science and Mathematics at Stellenbosch University (SciMathUs) programme surpassed my entire five years of high school," said Taariq Willemse at the SciMathUs closing ceremony held at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) earlier this week.
Willemse was one of 100 students who were selected to participate in the 2019 SciMathUs programme.
“I can proudly say that we are intelligent and extravagant now. Iron sharpens iron and I can confirm that my blade is sharper now than ever before. We have grown in so many respects, and for this, I would like to express my gratitude to the staff members and our mentors. This programme does change lives and it has given us a second opportunity," added Willemse.
The programme, which is 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. After completing the SciMathUS programme, many of these same students choose to further their tertiary education at Stellenbosch University (SU).
Phumeza Gova, a former SciMathUs student and now a mentor who will be graduating at the end of the year with her BSc in Geology and Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), shared a few words of departure with the students.
“I am honoured to have been entrusted with the responsibility of mentoring these young people. It has been quite challenging, but those struggles do not define who we are."
Gova said she hoped the students would take all the knowledge with them, as they will one day be donors of similar programmes.
Nokwanda Siyengo, SciMathUS Programme Manager, said it was great having former students guiding current students as mentors. Siyengo said this helped because they were almost peers and could discuss things and show each other the ropes.
SciMathUs facilitator Dr Elza Lourens said this was the 19th SciMathUs group they have had since the programme's inception in 2001.
“You are an outstanding group of students. I am always amazed by your strength and how you claim your space at the University. We wish you well on your respective journeys to lifelong learning. We will be at your graduation ceremonies, cheering you on. Go out, live it and make it your reality," she students.
During his talk at the closing function, Prof Mbulungeni Madiba, Dean of the Faculty of Education, encouraged students to join the Faculty of Education. He also gave funders the assurance that their investments had been put to good use.
The following students, who drastically improved their marks, were honoured and celebrated:
- Amelia Adams: Computer literacy – 92%
- Norma-Jean Daniels: Academic literacy – 82%
- Craig Verhoog and Onthathile Motlhasedi: Both achieving 82% in Accounting
- Kabelo Tlhabira: Physical Science – 92%
- Keneilwe Mataboge: Mathematics – 94%