Two million reasons to shine

BRIDGING the social gap that many students from poor backgrounds have to grapple with when coming to university has received nearly two million rands for its continuation.

The Targeting Talent Project at Wits has been given a donation of R1 828 500 from the Industrial Development Corporation.

The project helps high school students through mentorship programmes, tutorials offered by students from Wits Volunteers and classes that expose these young minds to the ins and outs of their choice of profession.

Pupils accepted into the project are advised on their subject choices from grade 10 and offered support all the way to their grade 12 exams. Testament to its success is the first group of students enrolled in the project passing matric with university entrance, most of whom are now doing their 1st year at Wits University.

Nkululeko Ngwesheni, 1st year BSc, has been in the project since its inception when he was in grade 10 at Mandisa Shiceka High School in Kagiso, a township in Krugersdorp.

“Where I come from the mentality is that you have to spend time selling chips and sweets on the corner. When I entered this project, it brought a new dimension to life that now I shouldn’t just focus on finishing my grade 12, trying to get work at Pick n Pay or Checkers because that’s what most of the people from where I live do after matric.

“So it showed me a wide range of opportunities and that you can still study and become something even though you’re from a poor family like me. I am the first one to go to university in my family because I was part of this project,” said Ngwesheni.

Ntsika Mgolombane, from the development and fundraising office said urban schools have more opportunities to enable pupils to access tertiary education, but schools in rural or impoverished areas have pupils who don’t even think it is possible to study beyond matric level.

“The project didn’t just affect me; a good spirit of competition in class grew because everyone wanted to outshine the next person. When I’m done with school I would also like to donate funds into this project,” Ngwesheni said.