Pretoria - Top-performing learners from across the country, especially from rural areas, will now be a step closer to realising their dreams with a mentorship programme that will assist them step by step.
The mentorship programme aimed at addressing access to higher education for rural learners in South Africa has been launched by the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority.
The Siyakhulisa Mentorship Programme will identify 90 top-performing learners from remote areas, who will benefit from hands-on mentorship while at high school and thereafter, as well as funding for their tertiary studies.
“There are numerous barriers to access to higher education for rural learners. Beyond just the challenges of their geographical location, there are also socio-economic barriers and sometimes a lack of information about the career opportunities available and how to access these,” Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority CEO Elaine Brass said.
She said it was the entity’s goal to ensure that all learners across South Africa, even those from the far-flung areas of the country, feel that pursuing a career in the health or social development sectors is possible.
The Siyakhulisa Mentorship Programme, which was officially launched at Tentergate Village in the Eastern Cape on Friday, will identify 10 top-performing learners from remote areas in each province whose marks in both pure maths and physical science/life science are level 6 upwards (a minimum of 70%). This is informed by the entry requirements at universities for health-related courses like medicine, psychology and nursing.
“The selected learners from each province will receive mentorship from experts to give them all the necessary tools to maintain their academic performance throughout high school, so that they can ultimately benefit from funding for their tertiary studies in the fields of health and social development from Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority.”
The Siyakhulisa Mentorship Programme is a comprehensive programme aimed at guiding the learners to fulfil their dreams of securing a career in the health or social development sectors.
The programme will also help learners with their mental health during exams by offering access to psychologists.
The Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority will organise educational camps for learners during school holidays and collaborate with schools and tutors to offer Saturday school to help the learners maintain their good maths and science marks.
The selected learners will also attend tertiary open days to assist them in making informed decisions about their careers. Ultimately, the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority will also provide tertiary education funding to the eligible candidates.
Brass said: “It’s hoped that the mentorship programme will encourage, inspire and guide the 90 selected learners so that they are perfectly poised to take up exciting and meaningful careers within the sector.”
The Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority is more than a skills development authority – it is a national entity dedicated to service delivery. They consider it their work as part of the public trust.
“When we talk about skills development, it’s about changing people’s lives, enhancing their employability and aligning their skills to our economy. We have served the nation for 19 years, and in that time we have continually changed and grown to provide the skills that our country needs to meet new challenges in the health and social development sectors, as well as the veterinary sector,” Brass said.
She added that they sought people with the same strong ethic of service, energy and dedication to serving our country.
The Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority’s vision is the creation of a skilled workforce for the health and social development needs of all South Africans.
Its mission is to create an integrated approach to the development and provision of appropriately skilled health and social development workers, to render quality services comparable to world-class standards.