PIF: University of KwaZulu

Most high school pupils planning to go to university have no idea what awaits them - especially if they have limited resources. The 30 learners from Nhlanhlayethu and Senzokwethu secondary schools in KwaZulu-Natal were so grateful to have Siphamandla and others arrange the trip and provide the pupils with invaluable practical and personal insights into university life, while familiarising them with the campus.

“The tour was inspired by our past experience from our respective high schools,” says Siphamandla Mpanza, one of the Moshal student organisers.

 “I remember when I went to register for my degree, I got lost because I had no idea where things were at the university, where I was supposed to go or who I was I supposed to speak to. So, we thought by doing this, we could to make it easier for these pupils.”

The group of Moshal Scholars first made contact with the pupils on Mandela Day, when they went to the schools to provide career guidance.

“During our presentations, we spoke a lot about the university environment, its challenges, advantages and disadvantages and we recognised the need to give the school pupils this practical experience and to help motivate them to further their studies,” says Siphamandla.

The Moshal Scholars and teachers at the schools selected the pupils, depending on their academic performance and plans to study at the university.  The Moshal Scholars hired two taxis, one for each school.  The pupils were picked up at 8am and got to the university at 10 am.

After sharing information about their backgrounds, what they planned to study and whether they had they already applied, the pupils were divided into groups of 10, according to what they planned to study. They accompanied the groups around the university, showing them places they would need to go to, such as the applications office, student representative council building and registrations building.

“We were exhausted and drained after the two-hour tour because Howard is a huge campus,” says Siphamandla. “We had fun, though, and it was a good exercise. We also showed them some of the faculties, including law and management, humanities and the science block.”

 While some Moshal Scholars took the tours, others prepared lunch, so it would be ready for the tired and hungry young people when the tour concluded at 2.30pm. As they finished eating, the taxis were ready to take them home.

“The tour went better than we had anticipated because of the response from the learners and the questions they kept asking,” says Siphamandla.  “They had fun and this experience bolstered their confidence for the upcoming trial exams and inspired them not only to strive to pass matric, but to be able to meet university requirements and pursue their dreams.

So inspired were the Moshal Scholars by their achievement, they have decided to go on to phase three of their Mandela Day project. “We now plan to help a portion of those learners who don’t have the finances to pay for their university registration by contacting the municipal financial aid scheme and private sponsors, who may be willing to help,” says Siphamandla.

The core group of Moshal Scholars involved in this are: Siphamandla Mpanza, Sanelisiwe Sibiya, Thamsanqa Ngcobo, Khulekani Shozi and Lindokuhle Gwala and Thamsanqa Sibiya.