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Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s annual accounting winter schools for Grade 11 and 12 pupils are about much more than boosting exam results – they are about bringing young people together from all walks of life, and inspiring them to dream.

INSPIRING PUPILS … Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University BCom (Accounting) students (from left) Caitlin Tamboer, Duane Rensburg and Carmel Chan-Lok gear up to be tutors at NMMU’s upcoming accounting winter schools for Grade 11 and 12 pupils. 

Hundreds of pupils from across the Eastern and Southern Cape have already signed up for this year’s three winter school programmes in Port Elizabeth and George, which run from July 10 to 14. The deadline to register is June 19.

The on-campus winter schools give pupils a taste of university life, by following the same academic model used by NMMU’s School of Accounting, where formal lectures are followed by smaller-group tutorials, run by BCom (Accounting) students. There are also motivational talks and mentoring by accounting professionals and past students – and talks on funding options for university.

“The students not only receive academic aid … Many of these pupils come to the winter school simply hoping to pass matric, but they are inspired to dream and to make those dreams a reality,” said tutor Duane Rensburg, who is completing his postgraduate degree in Accounting, on the path towards qualifying as a Chartered Accountant.

Rensburg, who has tutored at the winter schools for the past three years, said the winter schools had taught him the “true meaning of Ubuntu [as] … pupils from all walks of life come together, from the privileged schools to the least privileged, and engage and assist one another”.

This year’s winter schools will also feature the concept of “tutor shadows”, where first-year NMMU BCom students will shadow a tutor, who will be a second- to fourth-year student, to develop them to be effective tutors next year.

“Being a tutor means that for that week, you will be a motivational speaker, a counsellor and even a psychologist … By shadowing, the new tutors will quickly develop these skills,” said Rensburg.

One of the shadow tutors, first-year Carmel Chan-Lok, who attended the Grade 11 and 12 winter schools as a pupil, said the schools helped to boost her final exam results by 10 percentage points – which contributed towards her being awarded a prestigious NMMU Vice-Chancellor’s scholarship – and gave her a “clearer picture” about what a career in accounting would look like.

“My tutor inspired me and helped me so much with more than just accounting and I want to make that same difference in someone else’s life.”

Another shadow tutor and past Grade 11 winter school attendee, Caitlin Tamboer, said the winter school gave her a “preview of student life”.  “As a student, I can say the week of winter school is pretty much what my week looks like now.”

Carin Langner, associate director at Deloitte, which has sponsored the Grade 12 winter schools since 2011, said: “The theme for the week is definitely ‘anything is possible’ and we spend the week mentoring learners on how to make their dreams possible. It’s amazing to see the impact this has. 

“The winter school caters for everyone, whether you’re a top learner [or not] … It’s when you’re out of your comfort zone, surrounded by learners you may have never met before, where the real learning starts. By the end of the week, you have built a network of learners from across the Eastern Cape and established a support base for their final exams.”

Ash Rathan, a partner at PwC Port Elizabeth, which has sponsored the Grade 11 winter school since 2012, said: “Many of the learners who attend have never spoken to a career guidance counsellor, or ever engaged with an accountant. They have never been to a university campus before. In some cases, they have never interacted with pupils from other communities. The winter school gives them the opportunity do all of that. It is so much more than just about teaching accounting. It’s a life experience that learners will never forget, regardless of whether they decide to follow a career in accounting or not.”

NMMU accounting winter schools coordinator Ansulene Prinsloo said: “The winter schools have become my yearly highlight … It is truly humbling to see the difference one week can make in the lives of so many learners.”

  • For more information on the accounting winter schools, contact Prinsloo on 041-5042010 or Sharne Martin on 041-5042073, or email

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