Prepare High School Learners

Learners from rural and underserved communities might have a better chance of following a career in health sciences through a new project that will help them gain access to tertiary education.

The project by Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) and partners, entitled SU-Area Health Education Centres (SU-AHEC), will prepare more high school learners from rural and underserved communities through guidance and tutoring specially in Maths and Sciences for careers in the health profession.

“Our aim is to produce more graduates in the health sciences to address the need for health professionals in South Africa and the rest of the continent,” says Dr Therese Fish, FMHS’ Deputy Dean: Community Service and Interaction and Principal Investigator for the project.  AHEC is a sub grant of Stellenbosch University’s Rural Medical Education Partnership Initiative (SURMEPI) and have received $500 000 funding per year for three years. It will expand efforts, which already facilitate access to higher education to rural populations through initiatives such as Hope@Maties and SciMathUS under the leadership of Dr Trevor van Louw, the Director of Stellenbosch University Centre for Pedagogy (SUNCEP).

The project consists out of four sub-areas:

  • Grade 7-8 learner Intervention
  • Grade 10-11 learner Intervention
  • Teacher Capacity Development
  • Research Development

For more information please contact Dr Kalay Moodley by email: or phone: 021 938 9940.


Learner Day

The first Learner Open Day was launched in 2012 at the Ukwanda Rural Clinical School. The launch hosted 102 learners from seven schools in various regions of the Cape Winelands and Overberg education districts. The purpose of the Open Day is to provide learners with the opportunity to engage and interact with students from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences as well as to provide information and insight into the various degree programmes available. In 2013 we had a total of 127 learners attending with learners from twelve schools participating in the programme. In 2013, one of the learners who attended the 2012 event enrolled at the faculty in the MB,ChB program.

Learner day 03 May 2013 learner day

MB,ChB 1 Exposure Day

The purpose of the MB,ChB 1 Exposure Day is primarily to give student an opportunity for early exposure to the Rural Clinical School (RCS).  The event is generally held on a Saturday and provides an opportunity for first-year students to interact with current RCS students, as well as the academic staff on the rural platform. A total of 119 first-year MB,ChB students have thus far attended these introductory sessions.

Learner day1MB,ChB 1 students with Dr  Maudi Barnard a RCS alumni class of 2013 on the far right

Rural Clinical School (RCS) Pre intake tour

In order for MB,ChB student interns to make an informed decision about possibly spending their final year of studies at the RCS, the Ukwanda Centre for Rural Health facilitates pre-intake tours at the various rural sites. These visits are funded by SURMEPI and provide an opportunity for students to actively engage with the local academic supervisors and staff.  This activity forms an important part of the RCS recruitment process.

Learner day2PHOTO: MB,ChB 5 students with Dr Elsabe Smit, RCS alumni class of 2011, Dr Hans Hendricks academic supervisor far left with Dr Francios Coetzee, RCS academic supervisors far right

MB,ChB Final Exam logistics

One of the key challenges that RCS students face is that they need to write their final exams at the main academic complex at Tygerberg. SURMEPI therefore provides the necessary accommodation and transportation without any additional costs to the RCS student.

Library Access for RCS Local Academic Supervisors

All local Academic Supervisors are registered for access to the Stellenbosch University Library.  This provides them with access to all required academic literature sources in order to adequately facilitate teaching and development of students.

Avian Park Service Learning Centre (SLC)

The SLC forms an integral part of service learning for students at the RCS.  In 2013 the expansion of the centre was made possible by SURMEPI. The expanded infrastructure now provides three examination rooms, one community care room, one family planning room and three rooms for rehabilitation.  In addition patient records are stored and updated electronically.  Plans are underway to establish a food garden to assist patients with food insecurities. On average approximately100 referred patients utilise the SLC every Monday and Thursday.

Transport for RCS students

A student shuttle service was established to assist students working the various communities. Shuttle services ensure that our students’ safety is not compromised and in addition, provide a reliable means of transportation.

RuDASA conference attendance

SURMEPI encourages and supports student development through conference attendance. The annual conference held by RuDASA provides both staff and students the opportunity to showcase their work and obtain feedback on their progress.

Contact: Lindsay-Michelle Meyer for more information about these activities (email:

May 2014