Grade 11 and 12 learners from different schools across the province recently attended an insightful Open Day at the University of Mpumalanga (UMP). Hosted in the Multi-Purpose Hall at the Mbombela campus, learners were afforded the opportunity to learn more about the various programmes on offer at UMP, to learn more about the available sporting activities, see the facilities, meet potential future classmates, and learn how to apply.
The various divisions within the university each had a separate stall within the hall where learners received relevant information and could ask questions and address any concerns or uncertainties. Speaking to learners, Deputy Registrar, Nokukhanya Shongwe said the registrar’s office participates in the open day to ensure that they guide learners on application processes.
"For example, we hand out a booklet that guides you step-by-step with regards to the online application process; it lists the various programmes on offer, as well as their APS scores. It is critical for our office to participate because we are responsible for ensuring that the right decisions are made, and how many applicants are accepted. It’s our role to ensure that we guide learners properly so that when they enter, they don’t find themselves frustrated,” she said.
“This day is crucial because learners get to know more about the university and how it functions, such as entry requirements. They now know that we care, even if they don’t perform well in grade 11, we won’t just reject them. We keep their applications until the end of the year when we receive their final matric results,” she added.
Learners had the opportunity to learn more about what the university offers.
Student Housing and Affairs displayed a demo of what on-campus student housing looks like, as well as a slideshow of UMP’s living and learning programmes which are generally conducted within the university community.
Manelisi Kilani from Student Housing said: “We offer information on living and learning on campus because that is the major service that we provide - to make sure we have well-equipped students who are able to become well-grounded graduates when they leave the university. We want to have charismatic graduates from UMP that will have a marketing urge when they go to the job market,” he added.
“Living and learning are basically what you learn outside the classroom, for example, some of the programmes that we provide for the students empower them with tools such as how to draft a CV, or how to write a business plan. We also have financial literacy programmes, sporting events and events such as male and female talks in our residences so students engage more with each other."
School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences
Head of School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, Professor Ntombovuyo Wayi-Mgwebi said the exhibition is for learners to know and understand what the school is looking for in students.
"The programmes are aimed at assisting the students to be able to develop applications and also prepare them for various careers in ICT. From the learners, we realised that most of them are interested in the Bachelor of ICT. Their justification is that the diploma takes longer for them to reach the bachelor programme because they still need to do the advanced diploma,” she said.
Student Health and Wellness demonstrated how the university takes care of student's wellness during their study at UMP.
School of Agricultural Sciences
Head of School of Agricultural Sciences, Professor Funso Kutu, said: “We are here today to introduce to the learners the programmes that we have in our schools. We have programmes from diplomas to postgraduates’ certificates to masters’ programmes and PhD programmes but for today we are only going to talk about undergraduates programmes.”
“Our slogan is: Have you eaten today? If the answer is yes, you should thank the farmer. Most learners want to study agronomy which is a programme in plant production, where they are dealing with planting agronomic plants such as maize, sugar cane and sunflowers. Others were also interested in animal production. We are advising grade 11s and 12s to work on their English, either Mathematical literacy or pure Math because in our school everything is calculations,” he said.
Learners were eager to learn more about the programmes offered at UMP.
School of Social Sciences
Senior lecturer in the school of Social Sciences, Dr Tshepang Molale said the School of Social Sciences has exciting programmes such as heritage, gender studies, and history. He also shared news about yet another exciting programme called BAMCC Bachelor of Arts in Media Culture and Communication, which will begin in 2023.
He said: “If there is any learner who would like to come and study this programme, they are more than welcome because we talk about communication and media studies and culture. These are important programmes in the humanities because they teach us about our heritage, and where we come from and they also give a student an idea around how to find work in different sectors such as corporate communication, and journalism and participate in cultures such as culture and heritage. I sincerely hope that they will come and join us so that we embark on this journey together because they will be one of the first cohorts that we are going to produce in this programme."
Learners’ experiences on the day
Stacy Malinga, a Grade 12 learner from Khutsalani Secondary School, shared her thoughts on the Open Day: “This experience was important because we need to familiarise ourselves with the university environment so that when we get there we don’t feel out of place”.
“What I learned today is that UMP has a lot of different programmes that I think I can qualify for because of my APS. At first, I thought my APS was too low but with how the staff from the university explained and taught me how to count my APS I was able to see that I qualify for many programmes. I would like to apply for Nature Conservation mostly because I love nature and I would like to improve the natural state of Mpumalanga and most possibly the world,” she said.
“My highlight today was getting into the gate and seeing a learning institution and also getting the rush that this is the same place I will be enrolled in next year, this place is bigger than I thought, and I cannot wait to see the rest of it."
Learners listen attentively to the information provided.
Lihle Moncina, a Grade 12 learner from Khutsalani Secondary School, said: “I am here to find out types of careers that I can embark in and so that I can get more information and find what I am interested in since I am a little confused. I also wanted to know the environment in the university and what is expected of me since this is the last year of high school, which I now know, all thanks to the UMP staff,” she said.
“The highlight of my day was to see this place and it occurred to me that I am coming to this point of my life that I am about to become independent. I will be far away from my parents and I need to be responsible and socialise in a better way since I will be around a lot of people which I do not know.”
“I learned it is very good to know who you are and where you come from so that you don’t get confused by people and you don’t get easily influenced by new surroundings. I would like to study the Bachelor of Arts which I can major in Psychology for four years and six months,” she added.
The day ended with the earners being led on a tour of the Mbombela Campus.
@ Story Cleopatra Makhaga. Pictures @ChrisplPhoto.