100 on the up

30 April 2014

Three years ago, 100 promising grade 10 students from Khayelitsha were chosen by UCT for a mentoring programme to help prepare them for university. Ninety of those students, who matriculated in 2013, were offered places at UCT for 2014, with 73 taking up the offer.

"The university needs you."

This was Associate Professor Suellen Shay's message to the trailblazing cohort that graduated from UCT's 100UP schools programme and were accepted for first-year study at UCT this year.

Dean of the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED), Shay was speaking at the launch of 100UP Plus, which supports 100UP students who have now enrolled at UCT. During their time at the university, and as part of 100Up Plus, students will be supported by a mentor from within their faculty and a peer-mentorship support structure that includes workshops and social meetings.

"In order for us to be an excellent university, you've got to actually be here," Shay told the students. "You've got to be in this place. What I want you to remember, even in those dark hours, is that this place needs you. It needs you to be here; it needs you to succeed; it needs you to walk across that stage and make a powerful contribution in our society."

UCT's Schools Development Unit launched 100UP in 2011, selecting 100 of the most promising grade 10s from high schools in Khayelitsha to be mentored for possible admission to UCT. Ninety of those learners, who matriculated in 2013, were offered places at the university, with 73 taking up the offer, and some opting to register at other tertiary institutions.

Dr Jonathan Clark, director of the SDU and UCT's Schools Improvement Initiative, lauded these students for being pioneers of the programme.

"Back in 2010, when we were still putting [100UP] together, if we had an event like this, do you know how many of you would be standing here?" Clark asked the students. "Fifteen. There were 15 Khayelitsha students from the twenty schools registered as first-year students in 2010. Last year there were more: 29, from 11 schools. But now you are 70, and there are another 10 students. Six of you [matriculated] in 2012, and there's even somebody from 2004 who is studying for the first time at UCT.

"Nineteen schools are represented here. When we stand here next year, I hope that this venue is not big enough.

"This is only the start, students. This programme will grow. I hope that the success which you have from the schools you come from will encourage your colleagues in years below you to aspire to be at UCT."

Story by Yusuf Omar. Photo by Michael Hammond

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