Through its Thuthuka Bursary Fund project, SAICA has impacted the lives of more than a million students, transforming the Chartered Accounting profession, and building our nation in line with the vision of the National Development Plan.
‘Thuthuka’, a Zulu verb meaning ‘to develop’, accurately conveys the action-based perspective with which transformation in the chartered accounting profession is being driven by the Thuthuka Education Upliftment Fund (TEUF). This fund was established as a separate entity within the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) in 2002 to drive the profession’s transformation objectives.
Through TEUF, SAICA focuses on two strategic objectives: to grow the number of Chartered Accountants [CAs(SA)] in South Africa; and to transform the demographics of the CA(SA) profession to match the country’s demographic profile.
The first step in achieving this is to encourage learners to choose pure maths until matric. This is also coupled with various programmes that stem from primary school such as the schools quiz, high school programmes like the Accounting Olympiad and SAICA camps as well as providing funding for university through the Thuthuka Bursary Fund. The programmes that are part of the TEUF have morphed to also include parental support initiatives and teacher support programmes, which not only impact schools but also communities.
More than a million touched
Since inception, and through various skills development initiatives at primary, high school and tertiary education level, Thuthuka has improved the lives and influenced the career choices of more than 1 million learners from all nine provinces. In 2017 alone, Thuthuka’s annual school programmes provided support to 141 769 learners and 3 467 parents benefitted from its Parental Support Initiative, while the EMS Educator Support Programme has empowered 507 teachers and 112 schools have benefited from the School Governing Body Projects.
In addition, the HDI (Historically Disadvantaged Institutions) Capacity Building project has enabled five out of six of South Africa’s HDIs to achieve accreditation for their CA-stream BCom degree. The accreditation of these Universities means students from these areas have access to institutions within their home towns and will not have to complete a bridging programme in order to obtain their postgraduate degree. The final HDI is expected to receive accreditation in 2019.
School projects that make a real difference
The goal of Thuthuka’s school projects is to spread two key messages: maths matters and choose CA(SA).
The Primary Education Outreach entails creating grade 7 career awareness through a SAICA Quiz, which has reached 891 primary school learners in 119 schools. The Secondary Education Outreach includes initiatives such as career awareness programmes, business development games and annual development camps.
These programmes are so effective that in 2017, 80% of South African high schools that achieved a 60% matric maths pass rate, were part of a SAICA school initiative.
University programmes that go the extra mile
In addition to providing career guidance, academic support in key subjects like maths and fostering entrepreneurship skills in the youth, Thuthuka’s tertiary bursary, the Thuthuka Bursary Fund (TBF), has changed the course of the lives of 8 841 beneficiaries since it was established in 2005.
Currently in the pipeline are a growing number of future African and coloured CAs(SA) at various levels of their qualification journey, including 763 students who are currently doing their SAICA-accredited undergraduate BCom degree, 546 students who are doing their CTA honours programme and 649 Thuthuka trainees are completing their three-year training contracts. This pool alone will add over 1 900 qualified African and coloured CAs(SA) to the profession in the next few years.
Transforming the CA(SA) profession
“Today, the son of a mineworker is a Chartered Accountant,” says Bongile James, TBF Beneficiary and qualified CA(SA) at Rand Merchant Bank. Orphaned at 13, James is a firsthand witness of Thuthuka’s impact on disadvantaged South African youth.
Colleen Adams, a TBF beneficiary and qualified CA(SA) at PwC, agrees: “Qualifying as a CA(SA) would not have been possible without both the financial and non-financial support that TBF offers. The passion and dedication with which this programme is implemented is unparalleled.”
“Through SAICA’s Nation Building projects such as Thuthuka, we are growing the number of chartered accountants to address the critical financial management skills shortages in South Africa, while also transforming the demographics of the profession,” says Chantyl Mulder CA(SA), SAICA Executive Director: Nation Building.
“When we set out in 2002, the percentage of African and coloured CAs(SA) amounted to a mere 2% of the total membership number, today it’s 16%. While we have a long way to go, and allowing for the fact that it takes at least seven years to qualify as a CA(SA), we are making significant progress.”
Building the nation
Mulder adds that SAICA is more than just a professional body. “SAICA has positioned itself as a critical player in South Africa’s development journey. As such, SAICA has taken upon itself the responsibility for ensuring there is a consistent flow into the economy of adequately and suitably qualified accounting professionals who are representative of the country’s demographics.
“The Thuthuka project is a fine example of how a private entity, such as SAICA, can work together with government through public private partnerships to aid the national drive for transformation, employment and growth and ensure social and economic development.”
A key driver of SAICA’s strategic objectives is the National Development Plan: Vision 2030 (NDP) that calls on the private and public sectors, as well as civil society to rally behind a united vision for the country’s development.
“Having defined its single strategic objective as ‘responsible leadership’, SAICA is committed to building the nation as one of its key strategic drivers. It is for this reason that the tenet of creating and maintaining a profession of empowered members who ‘support the development of the South African economy’ is central to SAICA’s constitution,” concludes Mulder.