/ 31 January 2011

Increasing accountants step by step

The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) is determined to increase the number of qualified accountants in South Africa by identifying high school learners who are doing well in mathematics.

According to a survey commissioned by the institute over two years ago, the country is short of more than 5 000 accountants and 16 000 account technicians. Although SAICA has a membership of 30 842, demographically, South Africa has the lowest number of African accountants.

There are only 1 682 black African male accountants, coloureds account for 746 while 2 661 are Indians. On the female side, statistics show that whites lead by 6 683, followed by Indians, 1 007, coloureds, 341 and Africans 704.

Through a customised and transformative initiative called Thuthuka Bursary Fund, SAICA hopes the picture will change as learners receive comprehensive and sustainable support until they complete their studies.

The fund’s director, Nthato Selebi, said part of the strategy is to start focusing on grade nine as opposed to grade 12s only. The idea is to generate interest among learners early on so that, by the time they reach grade 12, they already have a firm basis to cope at tertiary level.

Selebi said the fund works closely with the department of basic education to identify likely schools and most of these schools are part of Dinaledi — maths- and science-dedicated schools.

The fund holds development camps with the identified schools and provides learners with academic support and tuition in English, maths and science.

“We also emphasise the life skills component of the camps, whereby we help learners to deal with their own personal situations, which might impact negatively on their studies,” Selebi said.

He said from grades 10 to 12, the focus falls more on learners who excel and obtain outstanding results so that they are adequately prepared for the demanding tertiary environment. Selebi said they help learners find the right institution, the right course combination and financial support.