The programme has been running for three years now and the Education portfolio’s Transnet Foundation Youth Education Development Programme has so far directly changed forever the lives of 30 students currently under the programme. Targeted at students who demonstrate or have the potential to demonstrate outstanding intellectual aptitude and specific academic ability, the initiative provides financial support, including tuition, boarding, and programme support fees for a period of 5 years respectively to successful students.
In 2012, ten grade 10 learners became the first students to be enrolled. The selection process however was later modified and in 2013, 20 grade 8 learners were selected for the second intake. Armed with determination to impact the lives of as many youths as possible, the Education portfolio has increased the number of students to be enrolled in 2015 to 10.
On September 26 2014, the Portfolio conducted selection tests and interviews at Prestige College in Hammanskraal near Pretoria. The tests and interviews were in line with the portfolio’s careful selection and recruitment procedure to ensure fair and unbiased process when selecting the children.
The learners from seven schools, (3 from Braamfischerville and 4 from the North West) wrote an hour long test which was based on Mathematics, Science and Critical Thinking. Senior Manager of the Education Portfolio, Theresa Moila said in an interview during the selection process that, "competition is stiff and I do not wish to be in the shoes of the learners, some of whom are very scared and stressed out. We are conducting the tests to check the level of knowledge and the knowledge gaps to some extent. For example, learners who have knowledge gaps of up to 3 years are not taken into the programme as it would be difficult for them to cope.”
Madeelein Hayhurst, the academic programme manager from the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA) took the leaners through the questions papers and explained the instructions for the tests. The final 10 learners would have done really well in the assessments and in the oral interviews conducted by a panel. The verbal assessment tests the learners’ level of motivation, dreams for the future and why they should be selected. Interesting answers were forthcoming with one learner indicating that he wanted to be a lawyer in order to ensure that justice prevailed in South Africa. Another learner wanted to become an electrical engineer and join Transnet when he completed his studies.
Prestige College, where the selection process was held in Hammanskraal is a centre of academic excellence that currently has 10 beneficiaries of the Transnet Foundation who are excelling (eight in grade 8 and two in grade 11). Four of the Ambassadors in grade 8 made it into the front page news of the school and their photos adorn the schools wall of fame. Emily Ramonyai received a gold star, Thokozile Tshabalala - bronze, Kgothatso Sibasa and Aviwe Dyantji received silver exceptional for being best improved learners in Grade 8.
In conclusion Ms. Moila said: “We are excited by the process we have followed for selecting the new group for 2015 and we can’t wait to unveil and introduce the new recruits to the Transnet family and the rest of South Africa. For those who will not make it to the programme we wish you well in your future endeavors and hope that there will be other education initiatives that you can tap into for further assistance”.