The DVC RIE Engagement hosted the project evaluation workshop for one of its programmes, the Uni4All Programme, in November 2022. The Uni4All Programme is a tertiary access campaign that assists Matric learners with online applications for universities, bursaries and NSFAS.

The campaign currently works with DUT students and encourages them to work with schools in their hometowns or communities, so that they can easily access and assist them. The student volunteers visit schools and assist learners with applications, whilst also guiding learners on the programmes to choose.

The application sessions generally take place when the students are on breaks or vacations and in their hometowns. The students use their own devices, such as laptops and mobile devices to conduct the applications and are supported with data provisions and travel stipends so that they can assist learners efficiently.

The purpose of the Planning and Evaluation Workshop was to reflect and assess the work that had been done in the Uni4All Programme throughout the year 2022. The workshop was attended by the Uni4All student mentors and the Community Engagement Staff and facilitated by Ms Phumzile Xulu, the Engagement Practitioner at DUT. She started with introductions and explaining the purpose of the workshop and encouraged participants to reflect on their experiences with the project.

The workshop highlighted the importance of the project. Feedback from the students emphasised the necessity of the programme, as they reported on the number of learners that they had supported and the heart-warming responses that they would receive from not only the learners themselves but their teachers and parents too. The students supporting the programme go the extra mile to ensure that the learners are assisted, “We also created email addresses for learners that didn’t have, and thoroughly explained the requirements needed to apply,” elaborates Ms Bongiwe Memela, a Uni4All mentor.

The programme is supported by 16 student mentors who visited 16 schools and assisted over 863 learners with the university, bursary and NSFAS applications in 2022 – providing support that these learners would not have likely received in any other circumstance. During the workshop, Mr Mukelani Radebe, one of the student mentors, echoes the sentiments of all the mentors in the programme, by sharing, “It really excites us to see such a number of students assisted through this programme.”

The students acknowledged that they had faced some challenges, such as poor connectivity in rural areas and access to technological devices, but overall were satisfied with their work and were cognisant of the massive impact that it had had on the learners and their communities – “More learners were interested [this year] and had [a] positive attitude throughout the programme”, states Memela.

Uni4All is a critical project in the Engagement arsenal, and in 2023 the plan is to not only expand the project but also to build capacity for the students with career guidance training so that they are more confident and comfortable in their ability to provide this amazing offering. Speaking on his willingness to join the programme again next year, Mr Ayanda Mbatha states, “It would be phenomenal for me to join the programme [again] because I believe in group work, that collected minds are capable of coming up with great solutions for everyone to conquer.”

At the end of the workshop, students were awarded certificates of participation and gifts as a token of gratitude for their support of the programme and the work they have done. Mr Alex Mdletshe, Manager from the Students Recruitment Department, thanked the students for their commitment to assisting learners with online applications. He said, “I am grateful for the work that is done by the Uni4All students. Their work should be celebrated and encouraged. I hope that they keep up the good work and continue to support their communities.”

Picture: Ms Nonhlanhla Nyandeni from Community Engagement with the Uni4All student mentors with certificates and gifts.

Tracy Khuzwayo

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