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SoA social impact initiatives change lives for the better
Author: Daniel Bugan
Published: 19/06/2023

The School of Accountancy (SoA) has again distinguished itself through two recent collaborative social impact projects that have positively influenced the lives of incarcerated youth and school teachers in the Western Cape.

The projects, which are guided by the values and strategic themes embedded in Stellenbosch University’s (SU's) Vision 2040 as well as the National Development Plan, were presented in cooperation with the Department of Correctional Services and the Western Cape Department of Education respectively.

Ex-Cell project

In May, a total of 20 incarcerated youth from the Drakenstein Correctional Facility who are about to be paroled attended this training programme where participants were taught skills to develop a business plan and to earn a living in the business world after their release.

SoA lecturer Juan Ontong, who founded the project with fellow lecturers Sher-Lee Arendse-Fourie and Ilse Frans, said: “We spent a week teaching them various skills around developing a business plan and finding employment. A few weeks later, they had to present their business plan to the group and us as judges. During a closing function on 22 May, we awarded them attendance certificates and presented prizes to the top presentations.”

The programme also entails SU lecturers and incarcerated participants learning with and from each other. Ontong explains: “We have formal presentations to cover the various topics of the workshop, but there are also a lot of discussions based on real life experiences. The idea is to treat them as people and not as criminals and to show them that it is possible to be reintegrated into society. We do sometimes have difficult conversations. For example, many of them are concerned about listing their criminal record on their CVs. But we encourage them to be honest and upfront about it and to rather highlight their positive attributes instead.”

Since its inception in 2021, approximately 60 near parolees from the Drakenstein Correctional Facility have benefitted from the programme.

“The idea is to not only equip them with the necessary business acumen, but to inspire them to start thinking that there are alternative ways to earn an honest income once they are on the outside,” said Ontong.

Lecturers who presented this year were: Juan Ontong, Sher-Lee Arendse-Fourie, Waldette Engelbrecht, Cecileen Greef and Carli Smit (all from SoA). Ilse Frans (currently working in the Dean’s office for the EMS faculty) also presented.

Teacher Enrichment Programme (TAP)

A total of 161 English and 95 Afrikaans economic and management sciences teachers from schools across the Western Cape gathered to attend this programme which took place at the Cape Teaching and Leadership Institute on 31 March and 1 April 2023.

The purpose of this annual programme – a series of workshops presented by the SoA – is to strengthen teaching capabilities by providing knowledge and skills for teachers who are currently teaching these subjects. The programme also aims to assist them to better explain these concepts to learners.

Waldette Engelbrecht, lecturer in the SoA, elaborates: “Basic financial literacy principles and ensuing accounting concepts contain initially daunting and unfamiliar terms. We share with the teachers the skill of explaining these concepts in a logical step-by-step manner, as well as examples that scholars in vastly different environments can relate to.”

She added: “I see it as a social responsibility and an opportunity to pay it forward with regards to teaching and learning. If teachers are assisted and upskilled, it will hopefully lead to better equipped scholars entering tertiary institutions, which, in turn, will give them a better chance to complete their degree and enter the workforce.”

This year the focus of the workshops was on Grade 7 and featured topics such as accounting concepts, income and expenses, budgets and savings.

“Each year a different grade with challenging topics in their curriculum is selected for the programme,” says Engelbrecht.

The TAP has been running since 2018 and approximately 250 teachers (English and Afrikaans) from across the Western Cape participate in the programme each year.

SoA Lecturers who presented at the workshops this year were Waldette Engelbrecht, Juan Ontong, Pfunzo Mulandana, Danielle van Wyk, Christoff Botha and Petro Gerber.