Picture: Former Scimathus students Nawawie Toefy and Joshua-James Bosch. (Supplied).

CAPE TOWN - Stellenbosch University is giving matrics a second chance to improve their math and science grades with the Science and Mathematics SciMathUS programme  at Stellenbosch University.

The programme has been running for 17 years with more than 1 300 students successfully completing the program. The annual programme is presented by the Stellenbosch University Centre for Pedagogy (SUNCEP) program. 

The main objective of the programme is to enable matriculants a second chance to improve their grades and subsequently be granted entry into university. 

“It is a full time academic programme and we don’t make use of students for teaching or tutorials hence we have permanently employed staff members. We are still taking applications from students who wish to improve their Mathematics, Physical Science or Accounting. Students can choose between improving Maths and Science or Mathematics and Accounting”, says Siyengo. 

Stellenbosch University (SU) says that 80% of successful students go on to study at SU while the other 20% study at other institutions of higher learning. 

“The Scimathus programme is funded by the University and other organisations while most of the successful students receive bursaries from the University, NSFAS and other funders to study at the University”, 

The Programme Manager, Nokwanda Siyengo has a staff of 8 personnel and 2 ad hoc personnel. The students receive student cards as they would when attending university which gives them access to all university facilities. 

The programme which is offered in both English and Afrikaans, adopts an academic structure with classes that start at 08:00 am and ends at 16:30 from Monday to Friday. The programme does not use students for teaching or tutorials. Instead, permanently employed staff manage the program. 

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“The students write the NSC (National Senior Certificate) therefore they are registered with the Western Cape Education Department for Mathematics and Physical Science. The Accounting students attend Accounting classes with EDP (extended degree programme) students and they are assessed by the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences) within SU”. 

Learners who are interested in the program should have passed Grade 12 with an average of 60% (excluding Life Orientation), a minimum of 50% in Afrikaans or English (Home Language or First Additional Language) and have obtained at least 45% in Mathematics and Physical Sciences. 

In addition to Math and Science, students can also choose to do Accounting and Introduction to Economics, both of which are offered and assessed by the University. 

Students are encouraged to apply online before the closing date on January 26, 2018. The program has had great success in previous years. Notably, the 2017 intake performed excellent in the 2017 NSC examination boasting 8 distinctions in Mathematics and 23 in Physical Sciences.

In the groups comprising of 93 students in total, 83 students obtained more than 60% in Mathematics - the minimum entry requirement for most degree programmes at a university. In Physical Sciences 55 students from the 2017 group achieved more than 60%. These students were then privileged by being able to apply at a tertiary institution. More than 200 former students enrolled at SU between December 2005 to December 2017. 

“The SciMathUS year is not only about gaining access into higher education. It is also about helping students to understand different methods of learning and teaching. We instil skills that can help students in life-long learning and success. Most students who have written Grade 12 and didn’t obtain good marks, tend to think it is an end of their academic road, yet there is a chance to expand one’s opportunity to access university via the SciMathUS programme", says Siyengo. 

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