Excitement as SU surprises Mitchells Plain learners with bursaries

“It still hasn’t really sunk in yet, but for now I’m excited and happy and I feel privileged to have received this bursary from Stellenbosch University and to have been part of this programme.”

Prof Botman and some of the lucky learners.

This was the reaction of Jason Biel, one of 14 learners from the Mitchells Plain area who participated in a tutelage programme presented by Stellenbosch University (SU) and who were surprised with bursaries at a special function held at the Devon Valley Hotel on Tuesday (27 September).

Biel, from Oval North High School, plans on studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering at SU next year.

The bursaries are worth R32 000 each and will cover the prospective students’  tuition costs. They are also offered a place in residence at the university.

Prof Russel Botman, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University, said that the learners are an inspiration to him. “My generation created the hole in the ozone layer, your generation must fix it,” he said.

Dr Trevor van Louw

The University’s Centre for Educational Leadership and Management (CELEMUS) and the Centre for Prospective Students (CPS) joined forces to provide the tutelage programme for the learners from nine schools in the Mitchells Plain area. “The idea of this programme is to establish a pipeline that runs from the school and into the university,” Dr Trevor van Louw, co-founder of the programme and Director of CELEMUS, said at the function.

Adeptly named Maties on the Plain, the programme spans 20 Saturdays from April till October this year and is hosted at Spine Road High School in Mitchell’s Plain. Students are tutored in core subjects such as Mathematics and Mathematics Literacy, Life and Physical Science, English and Afrikaans; and Accounting by educators handpicked by CELEMUS.

Learners were selected for the programme based on academic achievement in their Grade 11 examination and an interest in courses offered by SU. The learners also attended a winter school at the Stellenbosch campus where they were exposed to campus life.

According to Dr Van Louw, traditionally many of the top-academic Grade 12 students within this area further their studies at other institutions of higher education. “Through the tutelage programme we were not only able to address a real need in the community; we were also able to present the learners an opportunity to consider Stellenbosch University for their studies.”

In 2012, the programme will be open to learners from, among others, Aloe Secondary, Beacon Hill High, Cedar High, Glendale High, Lentegeur High, Mondale High, Oval North High, Portland High, Princeton High, Rocklands High, Spine Road High, Tafelsig High and Woodlands High and will also be extended to schools in areas such as Lower Crossroads, Khayelitsha and Philippi.