Participation in the activities of the Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert (FVZS) Institute for Student Leadership Development enables young people not only to make a contribution to society, but also gives them an advantage in the workplace.
This is the view of those involved in the FVZS Institute, launched in 2011.
More than 3 500 students – about 15% of the student body of Stellenbosch University – have already participated in activities of the Institute.
“We train young people in leadership, communication, conceptual and management skills. These are important things that are ploughed back into communities,” says Dr Leslie van Rooi, Head of the Institute.
“On completion of a course, the students receive certificates – official recognition by a respected higher education institution. These carry great weight in the outside world and they’re an advantage to students
when they apply for work.”
One of the students involved at the Institute is Ms Danene Wiggill, former house committee member of the women’s residence Erica. She participated in the FVZS Institute’s short course in leadership and community interaction.
“I realised you should be a critical citizen of the country – but you can’t just sit back and expect the government to do everything. You have to jump in yourself and make things happen.”
As an honours student she was involved in a “Big Sister” project at a high school in Cloetesville last year. The project is run by Erica and Nemesia residences and the girls at the school are taught life skills by the university students.
The schoolgirls subsequently decided – on their own – to plough back into the community by helping farm workers’ children of the Middelvlei wine estate with reading and learning skills.
“This is an example of a community taking responsibility for doing things themselves to make things better,” says Danene.
The Institute’s short course in leadership and community interaction covers such issues as the meaning of social responsibility and citizenship. Student leaders are also taught how to plan projects, to organise volunteers and to draw upbudgets.
The FVZS Institute is the first of its kind in higher education in South Africa. It is an initiative ofStellenbosch University’s HOPE Project.