From left, back: Mr Nicholas Roberts, Mr Thabo
Ndimande, Mr Bongani Mthembu, Mr Mlamuli
Mjadu, and Ms Phindile Mbanjwa. Front: Ms
Farnaaz Shaikjee, Ms Nolwazi Gama and Ms
Khalipha Msomi.

Proving their ability to think critically and analyse global commercial trends, nine UKZN BCom Accounting students made it into the Top 30 in the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) Student Leadership Summit essay competition.

The students – Ms Phindile Mbanjwa, Mr Thabo Ndimande, Mr Bongani Mthembu, Mr Mlamuli Mjadu, Ms Farnaaz Shaikjee, Mr Nicolas Roberts, Ms Khalipha Msomi, Ms Nolwazi Gama and Mr Nkazimulo Mpanza  – had an opportunity to network with the country’s top business leaders and chartered accountants when they were invited to attend a weekend-long summit in Johannesburg.

SAICA received 161 essay submissions with UKZN having the highest number of entrants at the Summit.

Ms Venessa Oger, an adjudicator on the panel, said the essays were of a good quality and it had not been easy to shortlist the top 30.

‘The blend of ideas from the essays were relevant beyond the parameters of the summit indicating the potential of our future leaders of South Africa,’ she said.

For the competition the students used knowledge they gathered in the classroom coupled with extensive research for essays on one of the following three topics:

  • If you were in charge of the post-school education system in South Africa, what two things would you do first to fix our problems? Why?
  • What do you think has caused the financial collapse of European countries and how do we avoid this happening to South Africa?
  • Corporate social responsibility is part of being a professional – why are South Africans, according to an international rating, such bad givers and what can we as a profession do to get our members to be more sociably responsible and also become givers.

Msomi, who clinched second place in the competition, used her personal experiences of the challenges she faced adapting to tertiary education from high school to detail two ideas she would implement to improve post-school education in South Africa.

Her essay along with those of Mbanjwa and Mthembu looked at the changes that could be made to the pass rate in basic education to help pupils acclimatise to the high pass rates in tertiary education; the different methods of teaching adopted in basic and higher learning and how students struggle to adapt, and the social pressures students faced on entering the tertiary education sector.

Msomi said she chose this topic because these were some of the things she struggled with when she started at UKZN.

‘The way lecturers teach is very different from how educators do at high school which is confusing for a student. If that gap could be bridged it would significantly improve students results and how they engage with this new learning experience,’ said Msomi.

Ndimande, Mjadu, Mpanza and Gamama looked at the financial collapse of European countries. Their essays focused on how South African leadership could strengthen banking and loan regulations; the issue of lack of accountability by national and local treasuries when the country was faced with such a crisis, and ways that funding was secured and how a country accumulated debt.

Shaikjee and Roberts explored Corporate Social Responsibility and the importance of companies giving back to the community once they had achieved success in the corporate sector.