Although its only a year old, the University of the Free State programme, Star of Stars, has already received national recognition. The programme has recently won a Mace (Marketing, Advancement and Communication in Education) award. All the universities, TVETs and Technicons in the country form part of Mace. The concept was the brainchild of Nomonde Mbadi, and is currently being seen through by senior marketer at UFS and project co-ordinator of Stars of Stars, Chantal Koller.
“It was a very big honour to be awarded. Once a year they have an annual AGM conference where we also have the award ceremony. You tell them about the programmes that you do and they select winners, based on that and the work that you do in certain areas,” explained Koller.
The Star of Stars competition was developed and established in 2016, and was launched at a prestigious gala dinner. In essence, the competition provides disadvantaged Grade 12 learners an opportunity to showcase their excellence while motivating them to aspire to achieve more.
“We started the programme due to the fact that quintile 1 to 3 schools often don’t get recognition, so even if they have top performing learners, they are often overlooked. The learners don’t get as many opportunities as other schools or pupils get, and they don’t have the means or a way to get to varsity. So we decided to start this programme to identify those leaners, to give them exposure and opportunity.”
She added that these learners like to give back to their community and they help them do this through helping them achieve their goals of receiving a very good education.
The programme is currently running in the Free State with the focus being on matriculants in the Motheo and Xariep districts, and will gradually include all the districts in the province.
Marketers from the university travel to these schools to introduce them to the programme and the opportunities it entails. They then assist the school and learners with the application process for the programme. Learners’ academic results as well as the extramural activities they take part in play a role in the selection criteria.
The first selection phase includes the selection of students that have a mark above the 34 AP score, and selects either a top 20 or 14 finalists. The finalist then enter the second phase, which includes taking aptitude tests with the development and counselling department on campus.
“They go for aptitude tests so that we make sure they are in the right area interests and so that we can see where the gaps lie. They also go for an interview, so we have a video clip of who they are and what they want to be and we do a photo shoot and take them on a campus tour just to show them what it looks and feels like.”
The programme also assist the finalists with bursary applications and getting placement in campus residences. The top ten are then selected and they enter the third phase of the programme, which includes a fancy gala dinner where the ultimate star among the finalists is announced.
“We get them to Bloemfontein and provide them with transport and accommodation, making sure that we treat them like VIPs. We invite their school principal and they can also bring two guests with them. We dress them and provide a make-up artist for the girls so that they look and feel glamorous that evening, and we hand over prizes. The night is about them.” The gala event will take place on 13 January 2018, where the Star of Stars will be announced.