Staff a step closer to matric qualifications

12 November 2018 | Story Helen Swingler. Read time 6 min.
Properties & Services’ Earl Delport, part of campus cleaning services, is well on his way to obtaining the Amended Senior Certificate, a course offered at the Staff Learning Centre. <b>Photo</b>&nbsp;Je’nine May.
Properties & Services’ Earl Delport, part of campus cleaning services, is well on his way to obtaining the Amended Senior Certificate, a course offered at the Staff Learning Centre. Photo Je’nine May.

Earl Delport and Arnold Wepenaar are among a group of Properties & Services staff at the University of Cape Town (UCT) who are one step closer to realising their dream of passing matric. This is thanks to the Staff Learning Centre’s matric and basic adult education and training pilot programmes.

The are two, both Amended Senior Certificate (ASC) and General Education and Training Certificate (GETC) candidates, successfully completed their exams this year.

Both programmes are pilot courses, funded by staff bursaries and convened by the Staff Learning Centre under course coordinator Chantal Leibrandt. The GETC course is a bridging programme for the senior certificate, or matric. The programmes started in August last year, with after-hours classes every Monday to Thursday.

Delport wrapped up the first three of six subjects for the two-year Amended Senior Certificate and is now looking forward to tackling the next three in 2019. A total 30 service staffers enrolled for this course last year, taking advantage of UCT’s staff learning opportunities after they were insourced in July 2016.

‘A good feeling’

“It’s a good feeling,” Delport said of his results.

His son Yannick is in grade 10 this year, and will be a vital academic ally again next year.

“He’s actually the reason I’m doing so well with my maths. I can’t recall ever being good at maths in the past. But at school 19 years ago I didn’t have the kind of mentality that I have now. That teenager mentality makes you rebel against your parents, rebel against your teachers … so now it’s way more serious because I’m an adult. I’ve learnt from those past mistakes.”

Even his attendance record reflects his commitment. He missed only one day because of illness.

How were the first exams?

“Yoh! I’m going to be honest. It’s been a while since I was in that environment. You must sit at your own desk. It’s at the end of the year and it all comes down to that moment. I didn’t feel good about my first paper. One of the teachers told us about writing the first paper, the butterflies in your stomach. But after that first paper I felt comfortable. I got used to writing an exam for two hours.”

He didn’t pass business science with the marks he’d hoped for – but circumstances threw a curved ball. Delport is a bus commuter. A month before exams started the Golden Arrow drivers went on strike.

 

“That hit me hard. I missed a month’s work, plus revision work, but I still managed to pass the subject – and that makes me very happy.”

“That hit me hard. I missed a month’s work, plus revision work, but I still managed to pass the subject – and that makes me very happy.”

 He’d like to rewrite – “I know I can do way better”. But 2019 will present new subjects and challenges.

“My son is so proud of me. We are competing at school level now. It’s a nice bond, even though he’s on the road a lot because he plays [soccer] for Santos FC.”

And after he gets that ASC certificate?

“I am definitely going to study further. Nothing is going to stop me.”

One step closer

Wepenaar is one of five staff who tackled the one-year General Education and Training Certificate, and was just one percent short of gaining four As for his five subjects.

“Maths threw a curved ball,” he said.

“But I really enjoyed sitting in a class again and writing a test. I last did that in 1974.”

Arnold Wepenaar
Properties & Services’ Arnold Wepenaar successfully completed the one-year General Education and Training Certificate programme, a gateway to the Amended Senior Certificate course. Photo Robyn Walker.

For him, completing the GETC course paves the way to tackling the ASC next year. Passing has boosted his confidence, proving what can be done with the right mindset, he said.

“My family were overwhelmed with my results, even though I gave myself a hiding for getting three As, a B and a C.”

As a pastor at a church in Retreat, his achievement has also motivated his younger congregants, he said.

 

“I just encourage them with the saying ‘knowledge is power’. At the end of the day, this is what will get you through life.”

“I just encourage them with the saying ‘knowledge is power’. At the end of the day, this is what will get you through life.”

Wepenaar hopes to study towards a degree in theology once he has completed the ASC. His son Ryan will be in matric next year and Wepenaar looks forward to having a study buddy.

“I also want to thank my line managers, Shamiel Samuels and Shawn van Harte, for their support – not forgetting my friend Jessica Selfe [formerly of the Staff Learning Centre]. She opened a door for me when it seemed impossible.”

Offering support

It’s been a tough but rewarding cycle, as these colleagues tackle their studies at the Staff Learning Centre after-hours. It’s a huge commitment.

Leibrandt has been overseeing the project since February and said the results mark a proud moment in staff upliftment.

She provides a range of support such as additional study material and is always looking for ways to help her students succeed.

“We recently agreed to introduce a coaching programme, as well as extra workshops and revision towards their final exams in June 2019.

“Working with them is an honour for me; just knowing you can add value to [the lives of] staff who remain dedicated, regardless of the obstacles and challenges they face daily. Well done, Arnold and Earl. I salute all of them for their hard work and dedication,” she said.

Enrolments for the next Amended Senior Certificate and General Education and Training Certificate will open in January 2019.

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