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Faculty of Natural & Agricultural Sciences

Successes for MYRE leaders and the team

By Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

Posted on 01 December 2010

Some members of the MRYE team at the 2010 MRYE and CTHB Mentorship Programme had lunch together with Prof Mike Wingfield, Prof Brenda Wingfield, Prof Emma Steenkamp and Ms Jenny Hale.
Some members of the MRYE team at the 2010 MRYE and CTHB Mentorship Programme had lunch together with Prof Mike Wingfield, Prof Brenda Wingfield, Prof Emma Steenkamp and Ms Jenny Hale.

Not only has the MPEPU Rural Youth Encouragement Programme (MRYE) in the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) become a flagship community engagement project, but some of the members also perform extremely well on different occasions.

The DST/NRF Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology (CTHB) at FABI has been involved in a number of outreach programmes involving learners at all levels of the educational chain. These include SciFest, UP with Science programme, the National Science week, as well as visits of school children to FABI. Its major outreach support programme for the past six years has been MRYE.

This initiative, under the inspired leadership of Samukelo Vilakazi until the end of 2009 and Sithembiso Khumalo since 2010, was started by a group of very enthusiastic third and fourth year engineering students at the University of Pretoria (UP), all of whom came from disadvantaged rural backgrounds and were aware of the problems of poverty, poor education and deprivation facing these learners in the rural areas. Since then students from other faculties joined the group and a branch of MRYE has been started at the University of Johannesburg. MRYE is now incorporated with the Client Services Centre (CSC) after they signed a short-term agreement with the Division Student Recruitment and Retention.

MRYE emphasises education as the key to enable hard-working learners to rise above their situation and open up opportunities for them to continue with tertiary education and so embark on successful careers. They also provide learners with details of subjects that they need to take at school in order to train for various careers at higher education institutions.

Their activities in the past year included trips to Mpumalanga and North-West. These were most successful and hopefully the fruits will be seen when some of the learners with whom they have engaged, will enrol at UP or their nearest tertiary institution to continue their education in the years to come. They undertook one short visit to KwaZulu-Natal early in the year. The costs for this trip were covered by the students themselves. In September, the CTHB supported their short visit to Nqutu in KwaZulu-Natal, where they tutored students at four schools for one day prior to attending the celebration of Samukelo’s graduation in his home village. This celebration also represented a motivational role for learners, unemployed youth and parents of the surrounding villages.

Sithembiso (Excellent) Khumalo, the new leader of MRYE, also made his mark during the past year. Besides leading MRYE, he was chosen to be part of the group of UP students who took part in the national Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) competition. The UP team won the national competition and went to Los Angeles in October 2010 to take part in the international SIFE competition, also known as the SIFE World Cup, competing against 39 other teams from all over the world. The UP team, representing South Africa, did extremely well to reach the semi-finals.

Another feather in Sithembiso’s cap was the Oosthuizen Trophy for the Most Outstanding SIFE UP Member of 2010 awarded to him in October to recognise his invaluable contribution to UP’s SIFE team. A second award, the Gold Medal for The Most Outstanding Service of the year 2010 was presented to Sithembiso in November when he was invited to the UP SRC and Dean’s Awards. He won one of only five awards, presented by Prof Cheryl de la Rey, Rector of the University, for a student at UP who has contributed most in 2010.


From the left: Sithembiso Khumalo (MRYE leader from 2010), Samukelo Vilakazi (MRYE leader from 2005 - 2009) and Prof Mike Wingfield.

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