From financial investigators to Chartered Accountants, social workers, artists and entrepreneurs, the career dreams of the 350 Grade 11 pupils attending an accounting winter school in the Bay this week (10 to 14 July) are as varied as the schools they come from.
It’s little wonder “the future’s so bright, you need shades” is the theme of this year’s winter school, run annually by Nelson Mandela University’s (NMU’s) School of Accounting, and sponsored by professional firm PwC.
Two additional accounting winter schools for Grade 12 – at NMU’s South campus (sponsored by Deloitte) and George campus (sponsored by Investec) – are running at the same time, with a total of 1100 pupils attending all the schools.
For most of the Grade 11s, giving up a week’s holiday to attend the winter programme is part of making their future dreams possible – as most are hoping to improve their end-of-year marks, as they will use these to apply to universities.
“Over the past five years that the School of Accounting has run the schools, pupils have typically improved their marks by an average of 10 percentage points or more from the June to December exams – which in turn pushes up their admissions point scores [at universities] – thereby improving their chances of being accepted for university studies in the programme of their choice,” said NMU accounting winter schools coordinator Ansulene Prinsloo.
Linkside High’s Fidelia Muronda, 16, hopes to become a financial investigator to keep tabs on the spending habits of governments across Africa. “I think it would be both interesting and dangerous.”
Pearson High’s Maryke Friend, 16, an aspiring artist who loves to draw and paint, is planning to study accounting so she can successfully run her own art business.
Meanwhile, Queenstown Girls’ High friends Esona Mshudulu, 17, and Chulumanco Tokwe, 16, both dream of studying accounting, so that they can one day work in top firms overseas.
“I want to study Chartered Accounting as it opens so many doors,” said Pearson High’s Timothy Scott, 17. “I’d like to start my own business and earn lots of money!”
Nyedo High’s Nomgcobo Matiwane, 17, and Nosipho Nase, 18, plan to be social workers, while Westering High’s Imaan Davis, 16, was still deciding what to study. “I do love accounting, but over the years, it’s got more difficult … I’m hoping the winter school will boost my marks,” said Davis.
NMMU second-year BCom (Accounting) student Kauthar Rabat, 19, who is a tutor at the school, said she attended both the grade 11 and 12 winter schools as a pupil. “Coming to the Grade 11 winter school made me decide to study accounting. I’m tutoring now because I would like to give something back.”
Asked what advice she would give to the attendees, she said: “Now is a good time to come up with a plan for the future. Choose something you’re really passionate about so you stay motivated to achieve.”
“I’d like to become a Chartered Accountant – as most go on to become CEOs of a business. After being CEO, I’d like to be a business owner,” said Aphiwe Baxana, 18, from Linkside High. He said he was enjoying “experiencing university life and it’s great interacting with pupils that you don’t know”.
James Joloba High’s Olwethu Buwa, 17, said she had settled on studying accounting upon discovering there was a lack of accountants in this country. “I’d like to open my own business one day and help to improve the economic growth of South Africa.”
Kyle Olivier, 17, from Drostdy Technical High School in Worcester, made a special trip to the Bay to attend the accounting winter school with his cousin, Erin Schroeder, 16, from Victoria Park High. He is still weighing up his career options, while she sees herself as a “CA at a major corporation – maybe even PwC”.
The Grade 11 and 12 winter schools follow the same teaching and learning model used by NMMU’s School of Accounting, where formal lectures are followed by small-group tutorials, run by BCom (Accounting) students. In between boosting their knowledge of accounting, the pupils are also mentored by accounting professionals and past students and receive information on funding options for university.
Ash Rathan, a partner at PwC Port Elizabeth, said: “We are using accounting to inspire learners to maximise their potential, and follow their dreams … The life experience that pupils take away, will inspire them to be the best they can be.”
Prinsloo described the winter schools as her “yearly highlight given the difference that the schools make in the lives of the many participants”.
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