Nine Tenths Mentoring Programme

Nine Tenths is a mentoring programme geared towards equipping matric students in selected local schools to cope with their final year of school and to pass to their full potential. Pupils are given one-on-one attention from a Rhodes University student volunteer mentor through nine guided and structured contact sessions.

Mentors are trained through the rigours of an accredited NQF5 short course. This qualification demands high levels of commitment: over 100 hours of work! In 2020 we awarded 91 (out of 98) students the accreditation. This is the most we’ve awarded in any year and a testament to the dedication to the programme and loyalty to reviving Grahamstown/Makhanda’s schooling. In 2021 Volunteer training was fully online, co-facilitated by our student leaders. It was the most well-attended training weekend we’ve had in the history of the programme. 150 volunteers applied to be part of the programme. 100 were selected. 98 completed training. This is an outstanding throughput for a highly demanding short course.

The 2019 cohort of mentees produced 32 Nine-Tenths learners who were accepted to Rhodes, and a further 21 are enrolled in Rhodes bridging courses. This makes for 72% of the Nine Tenths cohort receiving a strong Matric pass (with either a bachelor or diploma level pass) that allow them into meaningful post-school opportunities.

In 2020 the matrics WAY SURPASSED THIS! Read here for a fuller analysis of our city’s matric marks.

Despite the pandemic school closures, the Nine Tenths programme were able to generate 89 Bachelor passes from the four schools, 32 full time RU students, 26 Bridging students and 5 full time students at other universities.  Honourable mention must be made to two of our partner schools: Khutliso Daniels who improved their Bachelor pass rate tenfold! And their overall pass rate increased by 28%.  And  Ntsika who doubled their Bachelors and achieved an 85% pass rate (surpassing some of our Model C schools!)

2020 marked a special year in the life of the programme. We expanded the programme to a fourth school, Khutliso Daniels. This means we now function in 4 of the 6 non-fee paying schools in Makhanda. 2020 also marks the year that our very first mentee cohort (of 2016) will be graduating! In the 2020/2021 graduation ceremonies we’ve had 12 undergraduate graduands and 10 post-graduate graduands (some of whom are completing their second or third degree!) 

The latest addition in expanding Nine Tenth’s footprint is the establishment of a student research group to measure various aspects of impact of the programme. The students are drawn across faculties and departments (sociology, politics, economics, psychology) each contributing an ‘arm’ to a rich impact study. 

Similarly, internet has been installed at all partner schools, in partnership with a local internet provider to facilitate higher quality virtual mentoring (e.g. the use of video call etc.). The ability to mentor learners virtually allows us to accommodate more mentees to the programme- this is the largest cohort we’ve had (210 mentees).

The work of the Nine Tenths Matric Mentoring programme has recently been recognised in the coveted Tallories Network MacJannet Award for Global Citizenship, where the programme won first prize. This is a massive achievement. The Tallories network is a global CE forum with over 388 universities in 77 countries on six continents. We are the first South African university to claim a First Prize.

Our VC, Dr Mabizela remarks, “Our University is deeply honoured with this tremendous recognition by the Talloires Network with the 2021 MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship.  This award is a fitting tribute to our students who recognised the deep inequality in our city and through University Community Partnerships have made a profound impact on the lives of young people.   As engaged citizens, these university students are not just content with seeing our society or the world as it is but can imagine a better society and better world and are prepared to work with courage and compassion towards a more just, humane, a more equitable, and a more inclusive and compassionate society.  This Award serves as inspiration to our community to continue to find each other, strengthen partnerships and drive broader social change.”

Halala to the incredible community-university partnerships created through this programme and everybody who has committed themselves to Nine Tenths!


Applications to join the programme are now open until 20 February


Nine Tenths Resources:


For more information, please contact the programme coordinator:

Anna Talbot - 

Last Modified: Tue, 14 Feb 2023 19:21:31 SAST