Sikelela Scholars is a completion program that connects students to university resources designed to help them secure and start their careers.
Sikelela Scholars at the University of Pretoria
Dr. Kgadi Mathabathe
With guidance from dedicated University of Pretoria staff, Sikelela Scholars can better access university resources, like support in preparing for exams, counsel on how to manage stress, or referrals for advisors in their field of study.
graduation and "on-track" rate
University can be hard to navigate, and despite resources to help students succeed, having someone to connect students to help when and where needed is key. The Sikelela Scholars program provides select University of Pretoria students who qualify for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) – many of whom are the first in their families to attend university – with personalized guidance so they can reach graduation.
The program has provided new ways on how we can partner with our students to ensure they have the tools they need, raising the ambition of what's possible at the university.Dr. Kgadi Mathabathe Deputy Director, University of Pretoria
Partnerships to Create Brighter Futures
The staff at the University of Pretoria are familiar with common challenges faced by students and have implemented on-campus programs and resources to help both navigate obstacles and unlock opportunities. However, the university recognizes that students can also benefit from a personal connection to someone who is looking out for their needs and successes.
Sikelela Scholars are connected to a dedicated team to help them access on-campus resources– simplifying and personalizing the process so students can get the help they need when they need it.
Sikelela (meaning “blessed” in Xhosa), originates from the national anthem of South Africa “Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika”, or “God Bless Africa”. This name for the program was chosen because the University of Pretoria takes great pride in its students — a bright group of individuals committed to reaching their goals and achieving great things in the country.
Proven Support for Student Success
The program matches students with resources to help them navigate their experiences at university. Program staff provides students with:
- Proactive Semester Check-ins: An online technology tool utilized to identify any needs the students may have so the program can offer resources and solutions, like 1:1 sessions with program staff, and invitations to attend workshops.
- Academic Guidance and Support with Coursework: Academic skills development to drive on-time graduation and competitiveness in securing a job, such as referrals to a faculty or student advisor, help with exam preparation, and study skills workshops.
- Financial Counseling and Assistance: Advice and coordination with student finance offices and emergency financial support to remove stress and barriers to graduation.
- Wellness and Well-being Programs: Resources that grow students’ skills to care for their own wellness, such as roundtables hosted by program staff, where students learn everyday stress-relief skills and the benefits of physical activity. If needed, the program refers students for therapy or counseling.
- Career Readiness Counseling: Guided steps and activations to increase readiness for professional careers – ultimately increasing student chances of quickly being placed into jobs – like CV drafting and interview preparation advice.
“Both academically and personally, knowing there is someone behind you that cares for you is everything,” Azwianzi reflects about his time as a Sikelela Scholar. Since graduating, Azwianzi has entered the workforce as a process engineer at one of South Africa’s most well-known banks. “The program provided academic tutors, career guidance, and assistance that gave me the opportunity to not only learn about the professional workspace, but also about emotional intelligence,” he explains. “These environments gave me the opportunity to meet and interact with others I could relate to.”