IN an effort to diversify the chartered accounting industry, the South African Institute for Chartered Accountants (SAICA) recently hosted a maths camp at the University of KwaZulu-Natal for the first time. The annual Thuthuka Development Camps is a unique partnership between the Department of Basic Education and SAICA and was established in 2005 to help overcome barriers to transformation within the accountancy profession.There is currently a huge gap in the accounting profession with black and coloured groups being the minority. These groups are the focus for the Thuthuka Development Camps. The latest SAICA chartered accountants (CA) statistics are over 30 000 white, more than 4 000 Indian, over 3 000 black and over 1 000 coloured. Yuven Gounden SAICA project manager for communications, said the camp was developed to enhance and upskill pupils who are doing well in maths. “We identify pupils who are good academic candidates who are performing well in maths and who we think will benefit from having added lessons in subjects that are key for the CA profession,” he said. Thuthuka Development Camps are run throughout all nine provinces and take on about 200 pupils in each camp, where they are housed in university residences and everything is provided for them to fully reap the benefits of the week-long programme. Each camp consists of a five-to-seven-day workshop where pupils are given additional support in mathematics, communication, science, accounting, career guidance and life skills subjects. The camps are led by students who have previously been through the Thuthuka Development Camps. The week includes motivational talks by camp leaders, university representatives, institutions such as financial services boards and spokespeople from various professions. Camp pupils are also eligible for the Thuthuka Development Bursaries where SAICA provides them with tuition, residence fees, a small stipend and book allowance. After completing their CA studies, which takes seven years, students are placed in financial firms that are part of the SAICA bursary programme. “We give the trainees back to our donors, which is a good thing for their employment, but at the same time it means we are transforming the profession by injecting the necessary demographics into firms,” said Gounden.