Non-profit education trust Student Sponsorship Programme (SSP) held their latest graduation ceremony for the class of 2018 at Selborne College last Saturday.
The ceremony included SSP students from St Andrew’s College, Diocesan School for Girls (DSG), Selborne College, and Clarendon High School for Girls, with graduates from grades 8 to 12.
The programme is dedicated to providing education opportunities to low-income scholars from Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, through scholarships.
While academic achievement was an important factor, executive director Nozizwe Vundla said they looked for more than just good marks.
“We focus not only on their IQ but also their EQ – their emotional intelligence. We believe that the combination of their IQ and their EQ is what makes them leaders,” she said.
The guest speaker for the ceremony was Thina Maqubela, an entrepreneur from the Eastern Cape who started Maqub’s Academy of Excellence, a private hostel for female pupils in Grahamstown. She has also been involved in the Future Leaders Programme initiated by NGO Ubuntu Education Fund.
Maqubela recounted the challenges she had when she first attended university.
“Coming from a township school, one of the things you encounter when going to university is the fact that you no longer have teachers who speak the same language as you, who can explain concepts in the same language you speak,” she said, pointing out this could have a serious impact on one’s academic performance.
“You go into the classroom being one of the top pupils at your township school and being an average student learner at university,” Maqubela said.
However, Maqubela refused to give up because “I knew my family depends on this one child”, she said.
“Wanting to be the one in my family to really break the chains of poverty – that was my goal at UCT.”
Maqubela advised the new graduates to be careful when choosing their degrees and to always choose subjects that they felt feel strongly about.
“You’re going to sign up for degrees and you’re going to want to study particular things but don’t forget to marry your degree with your passion,” she said.
The next speaker was Zenande Booi, a former SSP student who graduated from Clarendon in 2017.
For Booi, being a scholar student carried more responsibility than simply getting good marks. Students should also be aware of their social responsibilities.
“You’re not only there [at school or university] to get good marks, you’re not only there to get your distinctions but you’re also there to fulfil your social duties as a South African, to exercise your privilege in a good manner that will benefit not only your family but also the people around you,” she said.
The Eastern Cape matric pupils students who graduated as the SSP Class of 2018 were: Selborne pupils Lyle Briggs and Mihlali Kema; Clarendon pupils Lusizo Nqweniso and Mariska Hartzenberg (who was unfortunately not able to attend); and DSG pupils Achumile Sinrtwa and Ntombizethu Mpahla.
The overall top achiever was Travis Bartosch from Selborne.