Tuesday, 26 February 2013 00:00

WOMAN WHO MAKE IT HAPPEN - PROF. RACHEL JAFTA - Spice4Life News

Written by  Spice4Life News

Biography

Prof. Rachel Jafta

Prof. Rachel Jafta (PhD) is a widely respected and award-winning advocate of educational development and growth in South Africa. Prof. Jafta currently serves as a Professor of Economics at the University of Stellenbosch, and lends her expertise to a number of committees and training initiatives, including the Rachel's Angels Trust, a Western Cape-based mentorship programme which she co-founded in 2007.

Prof. Jafta's career in education began at the University of the Western Cape in 1982, where she took on a student assistant role before being employed as a junior lecturer in economics. She then lectured for many years at the University of Venda, before taking up a lecturing position at the University of Stellenbosch in 1993. During the course of her 19-year tenure at the University, Prof. Jafta completed her Masters degree, and then her PhD in Economics.

Prof. Jafta's work has been widely published, both locally and internationally, and she has been recognised with a wide array of awards, among them Stellenbosch University's departmental award for teaching excellence, which she won for four consecutive years from 2004. In 2011, she received the Student Representative Council's (SRC) Award for Exceptional Alumni from the University, and in 2012 was nominated for the Shoprite/Checkers Woman of the Year Award in the education category.

Prof. Jafta's commitment to academic development and social change extends well beyond the university walls. She serves as a trustee for a number of the country's most renowned developmental initiatives, among them the Helen Suzman Foundation, the South African Institute of Race Relations and the Cape Town Carnival Trust, which she co-founded.

Prof. Rachel is the Chairperson of the Rachel's Angels Trust, which forms part of Media24's corporate social investment programme, and has been developed in order to prepare Grade 11 and 12 learners for the challenges they might face once they have matriculated. Learners from under-privileged communities are selected to be mentored by senior University of Stellenbosch students, who help them to develop stronger business acumen and real-world skills.

About Rachel's Angels Trust

Launched in 2007, Rachel's Angels is Media24's largest corporate social investment project. Operating from the Western Cape, this mentorship programme is aimed at Grade 11 and 12 (Standard 9 and 10) learners, with a focus on improving academic abilities and life skills in order to help them to deal more effectively with post-matric challenges. This is accomplished through regular mentoring sessions conducted by senior students (second year and above) from the University of Stellenbosch.

The project was conceptualised by Professor Rachel Jafta of Stellenbosch University's Department of Economics, Koos Bekker, Managing Director of Naspers and Professor Jakes Gerwel, Chairman of Media24.

The Programme

Within the two-year mentorship cycle, selected learners undertake regular campus visits, attending lectures and winter schools to unlock their academic potential as well as supporting them to develop socially and emotionally. The learners also take part in special events, such as market days where they gain first-hand experience on entrepreneurship. Through the process of experiential learning, peer mentoring, exposure to tertiary learning and entrepreneurship, learners are taught valuable skills that will better equip them to contribute meaningfully to society.

Mentor Recruitment

Mentors are senior students (second year and above) recruited from the University of Stellenbosch, who have obtained at least a 60% average, and are able to commit to the initiative for a two-year period. Mentors are also required to have engaged in prior volunteering activities.

Application forms are made available through the Rachel's Angels operational office, with a three month social media based recruitment campaign launched at the start of June every second year, to elicit interest amongst prospective mentors. Applications are then reviewed, and a shortlist of 200 is selected to undergo psychometric testing. The selection of the final mentor group and pairing with their respective mentees takes place in October, with induction and orientation into the programme commencing in February the next year.

School and Learner selection

After a two-month recruitment drive, beginning in June every second year, 20 new multicultural and previously disadvantaged schools are selected as participants, following a vetting process by the Board of Trustees. Booklets of invitation are sent to 50 schools whose vision must be aligned to that of the Trust. Once selected, a school then has an opportunity to pitch their school portfolio (consisting of their vision and mission), along with 15 Grade 11 (Standard 9) learner applicants who they believe show the most potential for growth and development, of which 7 are then selected from each school. A total of 140 learners are selected to participate in each new two-year cycle, each paired with their own individual mentor from the University of Stellenbosch.

Rachel's Angels Annual Lecture

The Rachel's Angels (RA) Annual Lecture was introduced in 2011 into the communities of the schools participating in the programme. This initiative was devised in order to establish a culture that encourages active involvement in education and heightened awareness of the social challenges facing the community's youth.

Specifically targeted at teachers, parents, community leaders, learners, RA alumni members, participating schools, and students from the University of Stellenbosch, the annual lecture is based on a relevant theme designed to generate interest and awareness. Each school participating in the programme is afforded the opportunity to apply to host the lecture.

The Annual lecture focuses on achieving the following objectives:

1. Extending the Rachel's Angels community and public reach.

2. Providing a platform for critical engagement and public intellectual debate that could lead to positive change led by communities themselves.

3. Strengthening of Rachel's Angels partnerships and the pursuit of new viable partnerships.

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