Education should be at the forefront of the country to achieve all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These were the sentiments shared by Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sizwe Mabizela during yesterday’s site visit by Nedbank for an update on the bridging programme they support through the Nedbank Eyethu Community Trust.
Professor Mabizela said the funding from Nedbank enabled learners from Makhanda local schools to improve their matric results at GADRA Education and get an opportunity to do one or two modules at Rhodes University. “Nedbank supports such an important programme as it creates opportunities for young people to realise their dreams. We can never give up on our young people. My dream is to make Makhanda a centre of educational excellence. I hope we can partner with Nedbank in sustaining the quality of teaching in Makhanda as well,” said Professor Mabizela.
GADRA Education (the holding organisation of Gadra Matric School) partnered with Rhodes University in 2015 to assist with the vision of Pathways to the Future, which was spearheaded by Rhodes Professor Sizwe Mabizela, upon his inauguration. The initiative aims to address issues of unequal access to quality education in Makhanda through various programmes.
GADRA Education’s Manager, Dr Ashley Westaway, was in attendance with three student beneficiaries of the Nedbank Eyethu Fund. One of the students, Mawande Kwitsani, was doing grade 12 at Ntsika Secondary School in 2021. He is upgrading his History subject at GADRA and taking Politics and Psychology at Rhodes University. “Dr Westaway was going around schools last year talking about the bridging programme, and when I received my results, and they were not good enough, I knew I would have a second chance with GADRA” said Kwitsani.
The 18-year-old said he was grateful to Nedbank for funding his studies. “I am now learning how to structure essays, and if it were not for this programme, I would have too much pressure when I get to University next year. It helps make my transition to Rhodes University smooth,” he said.
Tyrah Sybil-Joykonck, who hails from Cape Town, is upgrading two subjects (Business and Geography) at GADRA. She is also doing Politics at Rhodes University. “The experience from this programme has been so exciting. It gave me a chance to know and meet the standards that Rhodes University expects from its students and has helped me think outside the box. My marks have been amazing at GADRA as well,” said 19-year-old Sybil-Joykonck.
Asisipho Lokwe from Joza is upgrading Maths and Physical Science at GADRA and doing Zoology and Cell Biology at Rhodes University. Her initial dream was to do Pharmacy at Rhodes University, however, due to an unsatisfactory matric performance, she was rejected. “Dr Westaway told me about the bridging course I started this year. It has greatly helped me and taught me how to manage my time. I will be better prepared next year when I am a full-time student at Rhodes University,” she said.
Professor Mabizela said the students would be given credits for the modules they have done at Rhodes University when they come to study full-time in 2023. “Investing in education is investing in the future. The Rhodes University bridging programme is a tried and tested, impactful means of getting young people from a position of deficit education to socially engaged, environmentally concerned young graduates who can enter the green economy, either as employees or entrepreneurs. The programme has been specifically designed to enable young people with immense potential to embark on their university studies by initially doing one Rhodes University credit while also improving their NSC at the GADRA Matric School,” said Professor Mabizela.
Nedbank Eyethu Community Trust representative, Bulelani Ntuli, said she was exceptionally pleased with the partnership between Rhodes University and GADRA Education. “We intend to support communities through education and have been doing this with Rhodes University since 2019. What I have witnessed here today, seeing the beneficiaries of our support as an organisation, and the eagerness from the Vice-Chancellor and project leader, Diana Hornby, gives me goosebumps. There is value for money that Nedbank derives from this. We are looking forward to seeing the results of the 2022 cohort at the end of the year,” she said.
The Nedbank Eyethu Community Trust has allocated R1, 350 million for the current academic year towards the bridging course, and 45 students are beneficiaries of the fund.