Rhodes University’s supplementary school venture ends on a high note

Rhodes University’s supplementary school venture ends on a high note
Rhodes University’s supplementary school venture ends on a high note

The Rhodes University High Impact Supplementary School (HISS) programme, done in conjunction with GADRA Matric School (GMS), helped six learners obtain Bachelor-level passes this year.

This year was the fourth and final year that HISS was implemented, due to the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE) decision to not offer supplementary examinations as of 2019.

Director of Rhodes University’s Community Engagement Division, Di Hornby, explained, “Fifty-one percent of the students produced at least one level improvement in a subject, and 18 of the 51 HISS students have new or improved National Senior Certificates.”

This year, performance of ‘top-end’ students was better than ever, with six learners obtaining Bachelor-level passes. “All six have more than 33 Rhodes University points and are therefore eligible to apply to the University for admission in 2019,” Hornby stated.

An interesting feature of the 2018 results is that most of those who improved did so significantly. This is different from 2017 and 2016, when there were more students who improved than students who improved significantly.

“Despite the challenges and limitations of HISS, it established its credentials as an institutional opportunity that gave students a realistic chance to upgrade their results. The results after the experimental pilot first year confirm this claim,” reported Dr Ashley Westaway, GADRA’s Education Manager.

The six learners include Duanne Junior Douglas from Graeme Boys College, Nwabisa Grootboom from Hendrick Kanise Combined School in Alicedale, Axolile Hina from Mary Waters High, Thembelani Ngcese from Nombulelo Secondary School, Sivuyisiwe Mazimba from Philemon Ngcwelane High School in Mdantsane, and Buntu Mpongoshe from Ntsika Secondary School.

“Most notably, Ngcese attained improvements from 39% to 48% in Mathematical Literacy and from 43% to 50% in Geography,” Dr Westaway indicated.

According to Ngcese, his Bachelor-level pass means that he can now accomplish anything he wants, and he can work at achieving his dream. “I plan to study psychology – I would like to help people with their problems,” he said.

Hina, whose dream of getting into Rhodes University is now a reality, said, “This is huge. I am so appreciative to all of those who helped me get this far. I want to not only become a lawyer, but to own my own law firm.”

For learners who are currently in the same situation Hina was before achieving his Bachelor-level pass, he advised, “Cut the bad habits, firstly. Stick to education – it is the only way. You must remain focused on your dreams and goals.”

Grootboom, who plans on studying Psychology or Journalism, is very excited about achieving her goal. She advised other learners to study hard. “There will be obstacles, but you must find a way to avoid them or overcome them.”

Finally, Mazimba believes anything is possible if you apply yourself. She plans to study teaching, as her goals now mostly concern making a difference to the lives of others. To high-school learners struggling with their education she urged, “Do not give up, work hard, and keep your goals in mind with everything you do.”

Given the stellar acheivements of both the individuals and team involved in the HISS programme, it is regrettable that the DBE has chosen to do away with the supplementary examinations. “Although the June examinations remain in place, the timing in this regard rules out the feasibility of sustaining HISS into the future. This means that opportunities for certain categories of students end in 2018,” explained Westaway.

Unfortunately, the closure of HISS has more devastating consequences for students at the low-end of the performance spectrum. Essentially, there will no longer be an effective institutional model accessible to them that enables them to upgrade. Unlike top-end students already mentioned, these lower-end students are neither adequately close to a Bachelor pass nor do they have enough Rhodes University points to be considered for acceptance into GMS.

“All in all, however, we’ve ended the HISS experiment on a pretty high note,” concluded Hornby.

Source:  Communications