Young South Africans are seizing opportunities presented to them, with the support of the Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) Bursary Programme which has been extended for another year in 2021. This is especially critical following the recent announcement of young people unable to access higher education due to financial constraints.
In April, CCBSA announced an R4.2 million investment to be spent on 50 students at tertiary institutions across the country. Three of these aspiring youngsters reflect on the powerful impact that investing in young people can make in securing their futures and ultimately, that of the country as well.
18-year-old Lorenzo Hontense, from Eldorado Park, matriculated in 2020 and is confident that the bursary will help him reach his dreams as he prepares to start his National Diploma in Civil Engineering at Central Johannesburg Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College.
“My ultimate goal is to build bridges, great buildings and skyscrapers,” he says. “Initially, I want to work for one of the big South African construction companies, or the National Roads Agency, but I eventually want to go abroad and acquire skills in countries like Dubai, New Zealand or Australia.”
Luthando Ntantisa, from Freedom Park, is also starting his studies at Central Johannesburg TVET College, studying a National Diploma in Human Resources.
Ntantisa, who is now 24 years old, matriculated in 2017 from Freedom Park Secondary, and has spent the last five years volunteering at Phakamani Young Minds Academy in Freedom Park, as a tutor and doing various administrative tasks. He also participates in social activism, and recently joined the Menstruation Is Not a Choice (Minac) campaign as a volunteer, helping to educate young girls in townships about healthcare and also distributing sanitary towels to those in need.
“My goal is to work in one of the large South African corporates in manufacturing or information technology,” he says. “Through my work, I hope to make a difference in people’s lives, especially young people in disadvantaged communities.”
Melissa Claire Moodaley from Port Elizabeth is a 24-year-old final-year medical student at Stellenbosch University and has been a part of the Bursary Programme since 2016.
As she completes her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees (MBChB) this year, she plans to move to KwaZulu-Natal, where she wants to work in the public health sector for her two-year internship.
“The bursary programme really enabled me to pursue my education dream,” she says. “I recently learned that my parents could finance my studies for two years only, and my aunt managed to help me to be accepted into the programme, so I could complete my studies.
“I would like to get an opportunity to work overseas for a little bit to gain international experience, but I will definitely come back and make an impact back home, especially in the area of teenage pregnancy, which is a huge challenge in our country,” she says.
As the new students enter the programme, they will be supported with tuition fees, accommodation, books, meals, laptops, or transport, depending on the most pressing individual needs. Each student must maintain a prescribed minimum level of academic performance to continue in the programme.
“We at CCBSA, working in close partnership with institutions of higher learning and civil society organisations, are committed to ensuring that young people not only receive the financial backing they need to acquire education and pursue their dreams, to become productive members of our society, but they also get access to comprehensive psycho-social support to ensure they succeed in their studies, as well as in their chosen careers over the long-term,” says Nozicelo Ngcobo – Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability Director, CCBSA.
Ngcobo added that, it is important for government, industry, and civil society to work together to create a conducive environment for young people to have hope through the attainment of education and leveraging it to gain employment or start their own businesses. “Young people can only thrive if there is a concerted and sustained effort towards the creation of an enabling future. We cannot stop this important work. The success of our country is dependent on young people, male and female, envisioning and working towards a future for themselves and for many in our country, for their families as well. We are proud to provide assistance where it is needed the most and we are looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this group of youth”.