SciMathUS welcomes largest group of students to date

A total of 125 students who have been accepted into Stellenbosch University’s highly successful SciMathUS programme, were welcomed at SU this morning (25 January 2012). This is the largest group of students to take part in the programme to date.

Here from left are Sinazo Maxhakana, Sidney Abrahams, Zisanda Ncanywa, Unathi Msindeli and Andrea O’Connor – all part of this year's SciMathUS group (Photo: Hennie Rudman, SSFD)

The opening function was held at the SU Conservatoire in Victoria Street.

Because of its impact, SciMathUS has been selected as one of the University’s flagship community interaction projects as well as one of the components of the HOPE Project, a campus-wide initiative through which major societal challenges are being tackled.

Dr Kosie Smith, Director of IMSTUS and founder of the SciMathUS program, welcomed the new students and their parents, funders and friends of the program. “We are excited to have you here and although for many of you the year did not start as planned, I can assure you that SciMathUS will be a life changing experience. We hope this is the beginning of a long and constructive relationship with tje University.”

Prof Russel Botman, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University, said that talent is evenly distributed among the population, but not opportunities, funds and resources. “Through SciMathUS the University brings together the funds, opportunities and resources for you to develop your talent. ”An opportunity like this often comes only once in a lifetime, use it well.”

According to Prof Botman, there are plans to expand the SciMathUS programme to other parts of the province to offer students the opportunity to study closer to home while cutting some of the costs of transport and accommodation.

Me Nokwanda Siyengo, SciMathUS’s program manager, explained the structure of the program to students and their parents and encouraged students to make a success of their studies.

“To me failure is the inability to keep trying until you succeed. If your attitude is right, you work hard and are motivated, you will succeed – and we will be with you every step of the way,” she said.

A former SciMathUS student, Judith Hendricks, who completed the programme in 2002 addressed the group. “I sat where you are sitting now and I thought that this was going to be a waste of time, but SciMathUS was the best thing that has happened to me. It has not only helped me to improve my marks, but I also learned other skills that I still use. Today I am a qualified financial accountant at Sanlam and I am able to provide for myself and my family. You have been given a golden opportunity and as former president Nelson Mandela said: “It is in your hands now.”

The SciMathUS (Science and Mathematics at the University of Stellenbosch) programme offers talented and motivated students, who are educationally disadvantaged and who did not qualify to be admitted to university programmes, a second chance to improve their marks in Mathematics and Physical Science.

The 2011 group was another feather in the SciMathUS cap – all 97 students in the 2011 group passed, continuing the 100% pass rate of the previous three years and boasting six A symbols in Physical Sciences and one in Mathematics. On average, the whole group’s results increased with 14 percentage points.

The Mathematics and Physical Sciences group rewrites the Grade 12 examination in Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the end of the year. The biggest increases in 2011 class results were 50 percentage points in Physical Sciences and 34 percentage points in Mathematics.

The Accounting group writes an Accounting examination set by the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at Stellenbosch University. Four students obtained distinctions in this Accounting exam; the best obtaining 99%. They also have to pass an introductory course in Economics and rewrite the Grade 12 examination in Mathematics.

More than 100 former SciMathUS students have obtained degrees from various tertiary education institutions – most of which at Stellenbosch University. Two of these students are currently busy with their PhD studies in physics and medical biology.

For more information contact SciMathUS at 021 808 3483 or 021 808 3032.