A TOTAL of 200 top KZN matric pupils sacrificed a week of winter school holidays to attend the annual South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) Thuthuka Development camp.The pupils gathered at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg campus for five days of intensive tutoring and additional support in mathematics, accounting, English, science, life skills, and career guidance.Project manager, Lethukuthula Mkhize said the camp is aimed at overcoming barriers to transformation in the accountancy profession. “Our main target market is pupils from previously disadvantaged areas. We want to increase the number of black pupils studying accounting. The country has about 40 000 chartered accountants and only 10% of those are black. The project is basically to start at grass-roots level to increase the numbers and give proper guidance.”Pupils at the camp come from all 12 KZN districts and represented 70 schools. “The response for the camps has been positive. More than 40% of the pupils who attend get the assistance they require to excel. It really helps because we work based on a technical report from the Department of Education to identify the challenges these pupils face in class and we focus on them,” said Mkhize.The camp also becomes a platform for pupils who are doing well to get proper funding to further their studies. “Ideally, if we get proper funding the plan is to spread the camp all over KZN in three educational districts. We want to increase the number of pupils we accommodate to 600.”Ntokozo Fakude, a pupil at St Oswalds Secondary in Newcastle said the camp has been a great experience. “We are here to maximise excellence and have fun. It’s been great connecting with pupils from other schools. I have made lifelong friends. I am honourned to be here and highly recommend the camp for other pupils.”Pupils at the camp will also take part in mock exams to help them prepare for their final exams.