The MaP Top Achiever “MaP Scholars” Programme

To read about the life of one of our MaP Scholars currently studying in the USA, click here.

How We Prepare Our Top Achievers

“Every year for more than a decade, Maru-a-Pula has been fortunate in being able to select 6-10 students known as “MAP Scholars”. Academic excellence in the school-leaving (IGCSE) exams and citizenship of an African country are sine qua non for selection to this group.  Their scholarships take them to top U.S. high schools from where almost all have gained places at leading American universities.  I have taught these students a course in “Cultural Literacy” during the six months before they embarked on their trans-Atlantic academic adventures.

The brief has been to provide them with a mix of History and Geography, General Knowledge, Current Affairs and English language skills in the hope that some of the (inevitable) gaps in their secondary education might be filled.

MaP Top Achievers 2015

MaP Top Achievers 2015

In 2012 MAP admitted its first intake of “Top Achievers”.  All these students had excelled in Mathematics and the Sciences, mostly in state secondary schools where they wrote the BGCSE exams.  They will sit their A Levels here and proceed, at government expense, to colleges and universities abroad. Happily for me, it was decided that they, like the MAP Scholars, would benefit from sessions of Cultural Literacy, a kind of Magical Mystery Tour of the Humanities for Scientists.

It has been no small privilege to teach some of the brightest young people in my country. These students’ enthusiasm, optimism and sense of wonder have been a pleasure to experience.  I wonder whether they, or I, have learned the most.”

~ Alan Wilson, History department

“Maru-a-Pula’s Cultural Literacy course addresses gaps between the skills possessed by our best students and the world’s best.

So, what do Botswana’s Top Achievers & MaP Scholars need most?  To read widely and to write clearly. In class, each of our eleven students read their work and then absorb a wide-ranging critique by their fellow students.

To inspire their writing, we have read excerpts from :

Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird : Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing

William Zinsser’s Good Writing, a talk incoming international students at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism

Roy Peter Clark’s Writing Tools : 50 Essential Strategies For Every Writer

Students are encouraged to read articles from The Economist, The New Yorker and the New York Times.  They have read several bracing chapters from Justin Torres’s short novel, We The Animals, and have considered the arguments in T. Kaori Kitao’s article, The Usefulness of Uselessness, concerning the liberal arts.

They have been challenged to learn the “Top 250 Most Difficult SAT Words”.  A quiz is forthcoming!

Before we are done, students will have written personal responses to two outstanding documentaries: Errol Morris’s The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara and Lisa Merton & Alan Dater’s Taking Root : The Vision of Wangari Maathai.

What we have then is essentially a writing seminar with a wide range of stimulating subject matter.  It is a joy to teach.”

~ Andrew Taylor, Principal

“I had the privilege of teaching 11 of Maru-a-Pula’s 2014 Top Achievers, and I can personally attest to the accuracy of their impressive label. Maru-a-Pula’s Top Achievers are motivated by a true intellectual curiosity and love of learning. Each day, these students walk into the classroom prepared and eager to dive into the material, continually displaying their proficiency in both critical and creative thinking. It is this authentic motivation that has allowed their collective ambition to study at the most prestigious universities to become a possibility. I know I speak for each member of Maru-a-Pula’s faculty that has had the pleasure to teach these inspiring students when I say that I am both humbled and privileged to provide the Top Achievers with academic guidance.”

~ Phoebe Carver, Princeton in Africa Fellow 2014

Applying to Universities

“The Botswana Government introduced the Top Achiever scheme in 2010 based on results received by students in Nov 2009. Those with 6A* or more were funded to study A levels or IB or the US grade 12 year. Most went to private colleges in the UK.

After discussion between the Education Hub and private schools offering A levels/IB in Botswana – discussions initiated by MaP – a category B Top Achiever scheme was started in 2012. Those students with 4 or 5 A* are being sponsored to study at private schools in Gaborone.

The current intake has applied for university entrance in Sept 2016 (click here to see some of our previous MaP Top Achievers). Their multiple applications have taken a great deal of work : deadlines to meet, tests to organize, essays to proofread, fees to pay , not to mention references. However, the positive results have been worth it.  All those who applied to the UK have already received conditional offers, 3 are awaiting the outcome of medical school interviews; those who applied to the US will hear about their applications at the end of March. Thato Moupo has already been accepted at the University of Pennsylvania. Several have had interviews with various institutions including three with Princeton. It is a very positive picture.”

~ Sally Jobson, Director of Careers & College Counselling