Rhodes University has received a major boost for its Nine-Tenths programme through funding from oil and gas company, BP South Africa. The organisation has pledged an amount of R666 573 for the years 2020 and 2021. An initial amount of R322 016 has already been received by the University and the rest will be paid next year.
According to Rhodes University Development Fundraiser, Ellen Bagshawe-Smith, the funding is part of the Vice-Chancellor’s initiative of reviving public schools and will be used for mentoring Grade 12 pupils from three high schools in Makhanda.
The Nine-Tenths is a mentoring programme by Rhodes University’s Community Engagement (RUCE) division. It is geared towards equipping matric students in selected local schools to cope with their final year of school and to reach their full potential. Pupils are given one-on-one attention from a Rhodes University student through nine guided and structured contact sessions.
“The BP Foundation operates on the basis of strong partnerships with stakeholders including education departments, donors, service providers, higher education institutions, researchers and schools, which share the Foundation’s vision of skilled and empowered young people, who can contribute towards the growth and development of South Africa,” said Bagshawe-Smith.
Nine-Tenths Co-ordinator, Anna Talbot, said they have ensured that studies continue despite the Covid-19 pandemic. She said they are conducting virtual lessons through data-free websites such as Moya Messenger. “Live sessions are streamed through the platform VLC, mentees get their study guides from the Via Afrika website and we also use Vodacom e-Learning. We also make use of Facebook and WhatsApp as we have found that these are easily accessible to mentees,” she said.
Talbot said mentees who did not have devices to participate in the virtual learning have been given devices from the RUCE’s Social Innovation Hub. She said 70% of the work has been done and the virtual learning has been welcomed by the mentees.
RUCE Director, Di Hornby said mentors are trained through a rigorous accredited NQF5 short course for mentors. “In 2019, we awarded 90 mentor short course certificates. This qualification demands high levels of commitment, as there is over 100 hours of work involved. This is the most we have awarded in any year and a testament to the dedication to the programme and loyalty to reviving Makhanda schooling,” she said.
Bagshawe-Smith said BP South Africa has generously supported various Rhodes University projects since 1986, to the value of more than R1.8 million.