By Lisa Bluett
Pic By Desiree Schirlinger
Children from local Grahamstown township schools are being given the opportunity to explore the Rhodes University campus as part of a new programme, “Bring a future Learner to Rhodes Day” initiated by the Dean of Students Office (DoS).
The Dean of Students office launched the programme on Thursday, 9 March, during Community Engagement week. High failure rates in South African schools reveal that more action needs to be taken to encourage school pupils to study at tertiary education institutions. The Dean of Students Office has responded to the need for action and has introduced “Bring a future Learner to Rhodes Day” to allow local scholars to get an idea of the opportunities that are available to them. Every term, the DoS office arranges for one or two Halls of Residence to act as “host” for one or two local township schools for one day. The hosting Rhodes student is required to give the visiting learner information about financial aid opportunities, bursaries, admission requirements and how to apply to Rhodes. This programme may be the first step to combat high failure rates and to encourage learners to strive for a better education. Over a two-year period all the residences will participate in order to allow all the local township schools to attend.
Learners in Grade 11 are invited to Rhodes for the day are coupled with two Rhodes students of the same gender. The school pupils accompany the Rhodes students to lectures, to lunch, practicals and to their residences. Bianca Benke, a second year student majoring in Psychology and History, applied as a host from Drosdty Hall.
She was paired up with Sphokazi Magopeni, a grade 11 pupil from Nathaniel Nyaluza Secondary School. Sphokazi said she wants to study to become a psychologist. After attending a psychology lecture in the morning she said, “I now want to study it even more.”
The aim of the programme not only provide local learners with the information they need in order to apply to Rhodes, but it also aids in building positive links with the community, building relationships with feeder schools in townships and encourages awareness of racial and socio-economic diversity.
Giuli Colarossi, the SRC Community Engagement representative commented by saying, “I think that the “Bring a Learner to Rhodes” day is a fantastic opportunity to engage our community and bring it together. Unfortunately, some of the schools in the Grahamstown community have a very high failure rate and only a handful have the grades to go to university. This event serves to inspire and motivate both the school learners, as well as the students of Rhodes University.”