NEARLY 400 Grade 11 learners had a serious think about their possible careers at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s future-focused Grade 11 Accounting Winter School this week (7 to 9 July).

Next to a giant mural of the university’s iconic namesake, Nelson Mandela, titled “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”, the learners pinned notes about future possible careers and life experiences. These ranged from jobs as Chartered Accountants to neurosurgeons to social workers to self-employed business owners, both in South Africa and abroad.


“The Grade 11 Accounting Winter School is about much more than academic work,” said NMMU Accounting 1 Senior Lecturer and Winter School Programme Coordinator, Ansulene Prinsloo. “Yes, we want the learners to improve their marks, which will help them when they apply to university or for bursaries. But we always want to teach them the life skills they will need to be successful.”

That is why the Winter School, themed “Your future in focus”, was peppered with motivational talks by staff from international professional services firm, PwC, along with NMMU Accounting students who were excelling among their peers. In addition, for the first time in the three-year history of the Grade 11 Winter School, mentors were assigned to the learners’ tutorial groups, who are either already qualified as Chartered Accountants and working at PwC,  or doing their training contract at PwC, the firm that sponsored the Winter School.

Each day, while the learners are at their small-group tutorial classes, mentors move between their allocated groups, to talk to the learners and answer any questions they might have about working in the industry as well as life skills to be successful in academic studies. For many learners, this has been a highlight. “They can’t wait for their mentor to come.”

For Victoria Park High’s Sarah Morgan, 17, who dreams of working as a Chartered Accountant at PwC, direct access to the firm’s employees has been inspiring. “I signed up for the Winter School just to learn more about PwC itself.” She said she had been thoroughly impressed by the “resources PwC has given us, the work we are doing and the people who have come to talk to us”.

Theodor Herzl’s Sumien van Zyl, 16, who is also aiming to become a CA, said: “I feel that the Winter School is not only an opportunity to improve my marks but also to inform me of the world of Chartered Accountancy and auditing ... I now have a good idea of what they do.” She said the small-group tutorials have been a particular highlight. “That’s where we really get to address our problems in any area of Accounting.”

A number of learners travelled from East London to attend the School, including Stirling High’s Sivuyisiwe Clay, 16, who said: “I think we’ll have an advantage over our classmates ... Yesterday (Tuesday), we did VAT, which we hadn’t ever done before in high school.”

“I know how important our Grade 11 marks are and saw the Winter School as an opportunity to better my marks,” said Clarendon High’s Yolanda Sloti, 17.

Linkside High’s Zandile Hanabe, 18, said she had been encouraged to sign up for the School by past participants, who had seen a definite improvement in their marks. “Their marks improved by 30% after attending last year’s Grade 11 Winter School.”

“The School has also helped us get a better view of how you’re taught in a university environment,” said Sibusiso Mvunyiswa, 17, also from Linkside High. The Winter School follows the format used by NMMU School of Accounting, which includes a combination of detailed course material, lectures, tutorials and homework assignments.

“The Winter School is making us think about the future and what we’re going to do,” said Bethelsdorp High’s Ra-eesah Norkie, 16.