Stellenbosch University's (SU) SciMathUS class of 2021 recently celebrated the completion of the academic year with a prize-giving event held at STIAS.
The SciMathUS university preparation programme annually offers 100 learners, who have already passed Grade 12, but do not qualify for higher education selection, a second opportunity to improve their NSC results in Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Accounting to enable them to re-apply for university programmes, specifically those focusing on STEM related fields.
Since its inception in 2001, SciMathUS has seen over 1 697 (excluding the 2021 cohort) students receiving an opportunity to access university through the programme. In 2021, more than 2 000 students applied for the 100 spaces available.
This year's best achievement awards went to Teboho Nkosi (Mathematics) and Tymen Fredericks (Physical Science). Shanice Nicholas and Ammaarah Wanza received awards for best improvement in Mathematics, while Tembelihle Mathibela received the best improved award in Physical Science. Envir Tiervlei received the top Computer Literacy achiever award, while Aneeqah Soeker was named the top achiever in Academic Literacy.
Prof Mbulungeni Madiba, Dean of the Faculty of Education, said the programme has over the years provided many young people with a second chance to access higher education.
“Some of the SciMathUS students have gone all the way to completing their PhDs in areas like Neurophysiology, Medical Physiology and Experimental Nuclear Physics, and are today occupying influential positions. This programme has opened doors that would otherwise have remained firmly shut to talented youth with the motivation and potential to succeed, but who need tailored support to reach their full potential. One of our shining examples is Dr Gerald Maarman, who was part of the SciMathUS class of 2003. Today he is a lecturer in Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and an NRF rated researcher."
Madiba went on to express his gratitude to the programme's funders, especially government utility Eskom whose representative, Nthato Minyuku, attended the event.
“We look forward to strengthening this very important and meaningful partnership, and I firmly believe that, together, we will be able to overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.
Nokwanda Siyengo, head of the SciMathUS programme, encouraged the 2021 cohort to make the most of the second chance and to excel in 2022.
“The year 2021 has given you the space to be able to regroup and redefine your future. The ball is now in your court. When you go into your first year make sure you finish your degree in record time. You have more skills that you received from the programme, you are more ready to tackle your first year, more on fire to study further, and to exceed the dimensions of academia," she said.
An investment in the future
Minyuku, Eskom group executive: Government and Regulatory Affairs, said the SciMathUS programme is part of Eskom's investment in its future and South Africa's future.
“We believe that investment in education and training in STEMI (sciences, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation) is a catalyst to developing sustainable and holistic solutions to our national development challenges and our energy sector challenges."
SciMathUS student Qhamani Diphoko described her experience as a journey of personal growth.
“As much as we made friends we also lost friends and family members as well. We also learned new things. I personally learned that it is okay to ask for help when you need it. It was also a journey of the awakening of our inherent passions and curiosities that had died after we received our matric results. It was one of academic growth."
Siyabonga Sikiti said he was able to grasp the content of physical science and mathematics like never before, thanks to his lecturers.
“A reference I have borne in mind since the opening ceremony is that if you expect change from your marks sacrifices must be made in your life or your marks will be sacrificed."
Sifisi Matebesi thanked the SciMathUS staff, SUNCEP, the sponsors and everyone who made this year possible.
“Thank you for seeing the potential in us. Thank you that all of us who thought our doors were shut now realise that we have the keys and potential to open them again."
Samantha Koopman expressed her gratitude to her mentors, facilitators and her residence head “sis Noni".
“Thank you for all the beautiful memories we made with you. We will surely miss our time together."
To be considered for the SciMathUS programme, students must have passed their Grade 12 with a minimum average of 60% excluding Life Orientation, and have obtained a minimum of 45% in Mathematics and a minimum of 45% in Physical Science.
- Those interested in supporting the SciMathUS programme should contact the development officer, Sonia Schoeman at firstname.lastname@example.org.