Prof Pretorius spoke about reading the book, The Number, in which Magadien Wentzel, a prison gang leader, details his story of growing up on the Cape Flats and ending up in prison. Many of the places described in the book were familiar to Prof Pretorius, who grew up around the same time. As a youngster, Wentzel was sucked into a gang, but Prof Pretorius took another route.
“What I’m sharing with you is two journeys that started at the same place. And look at how our paths diverged. When I read that book, I was not thinking that I was better than him because of the grace of education. But if it was not for education my life could have mirrored Magadien Wentzel’s life”.
Prof Pretorius congratulated the staff from across the campus, who completed the General Education and Training and Adult Matric programmes offered by the university’s Department of Human Resources, Staff and Organisational Development.
“My life story and your hard work echoes the famous words of Madiba: ‘It's only education that can change the world’. We live in a time of intense conflicts and wars all over the world, but education is the mightier weapon than all those that are being used in armed conflicts today,” he said.
“You have your own reasons why you did not finish matric, but I know you are here because you have endured and you have not given up on achieving school leaving certificates. It is that resilience, perseverance and determination you have shown and it is humbling to be here today. I see you as heroes who have walked a long road to finally get here. I hope that is not the end of your study and you will use the opportunity to enroll at UWC.”
Professor Pamela Dube, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Student Development and Support, congratulated “the dream chasers”. She said studying late in life comes with plenty of challenges, and the participants needed to make time for their studies and other commitments.
“More importantly, you kept motivating yourselves when it became too much. Yet you managed to find time and stay on top of your academic work. I salute you for striving to stay on track to gain this important qualification. You are our heroes. Your tenacity and courage to take up this challenge and other commitments show that you are all stars. I applaud you for your achievements and perseverance."
The Office for Academic Support (OAS) under the portfolio of Prof Dube provided the students with coaching and skills training to further support their studies.
Caroline Knoetze, regional manager of Matric Media Works, which facilitated the programme, revealed that participants were faced with many challenges - from the pandemic, loadshedding, virtual training, and self-study, but managed to finish in two years. “That took a lot of courage, and you can be proud of yourselves. You have far surpassed expectations, and we are all proud of you,” said Knoetze.
Participant Shaun Cozyn from the Faculty of Dentistry said he was delighted that he completed the programme, adding that it was not an easy journey but really rewarding. “ I have already applied for a programme at the university and I’m holding my thumbs to get into it. Yeah, the journey is continuing now,” said Cozyn.
See gallery of the presentation below. All images, courtesy Ruvan Boshoff - UWC Media.