The University of Pretoria, Pre-University Academy (UP-PUA) aims to produce the next generation of global leaders that are not only grounded in their academic disciplines but can think across disciplinary boundaries and engage in debates and discussions about diverse and contemporary global issues such as climate change, cybersecurity, and gender-based violence.
The UP-PreUA has been established due to the problems in the basic education system. These include the lack of qualified teachers especially in STEM fields, inadequate resources in some schools, as well as large classes and challenges in teaching learners of diverse academic potential. As a result of their diverse mandate to teach learners that may be academically gifted, those that are vocationally gifted as well as those whose ambition is to enter the world of work, schools cannot adequately address these diverse needs. Consequently, though some learners do qualify for university, many are often under-prepared for university and the potential of talented learners is not optimized leading to poor throughput at universities.
Due to the above, the University of Pretoria (UP) established a Pre-University Academy (PUA) in response to the need to interrogate the link between basic and higher education as the future of higher education depends on the quality of the students that the basic education sector produces. The Pre-University Academy broadens the educational pathways of the learners and plays a key role in encouraging the learners to pursue tertiary education. The PUA targets talented learners and those with potential from different socio-economic classes. Through the PUA, learners’ high school learning is enriched not only academically, but also in acquiring 4IR skills, learning how to integrate knowledge from different contexts, as well as exposing them to university facilities and teaching by Professors who are experts in the subject they would like to study. In this way PreUA Graduates” stand a good chance of not only gaining access to university but also thriving and excelling at the undergraduate level.
The UP-PreUA aims to
A module for parents and caregivers is another distinctive feature of the UP-PUA. Investing in the learners will necessarily involve investing in those who care for them. This care is the crucible within which the potential of the learners is forged. The holistic approach therefore, also includes parental/guardian support. The module will include parent information sessions on subject choices and presentations by subject specialists, for instance, on recognising depression or anxiety to support parents to help their child feel more secure.
In order to better assist parents in guiding their children to secure their futures, the Mamelodi Campus has embarked on a career interest awareness for 1000 grade 9 learners through online testing. Test results were shared with parents through a dedicated parents meeting. Through this forum, parents were made aware of the career opportunities that their children could pursue and how best to position their children through correct subject choices. The positive response from parents has warranted a decision to make online testing an annual event. A Career Hub will be established at the Groenkloof Campus in 2023.
The UP-PreUA is in the process of developing an internationalisation strategy. Currently, two groups of 60 learners will be involved in a coding project at the Hong Kong Polytechnical University. This project will take place in July 2022 and January 2023. A similar project was presented in January 2022.
A research project will be implemented to ensure sustainability of the project. A cultural exchange project will take place in May and June 2022 with 20 UP-PUA learners. The following Universities will be involved: Merrimack College (USA); Tishk International University (Iraq), Abedellah University (Morocco); and Icfai Foundation for Higher Education (India).The plan is to extend the project if the pilot is successful. It is envisaged that in the long term an MOU will be signed with key overseas universities and more learners can be involved.
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