In South Africa, access to tertiary education is limited, with many young dreamers often unable to afford university fees and the many expenses that accompany this.
For Siphokazi Mbuweni and Tshepo Selepe – two young South Africans who grew up in challenging circumstances and worked hard to matriculate despite the odds – the opportunity to study meant being able to go after the careers they really wanted. Born in Embalenhle Mpumalanga Province, Mbuweni wanted nothing more than to be an accountant one day, while Selepe from Wattville in Ekurhuleni was passionate about one day working as an actuarial scientist. Now, three years later, both students have graduated with their bachelor’s degrees from the University of Witwatersrand, thanks to a great deal of hard work, determination and a helping hand from leading hospitality group, Peermont.
“When I got the news that I qualified for a scholarship from the Peermont Educational Trust (PET), I was so excited and scared at the same time,” says an eager Selepe. “This was the only opportunity I received to further my studies since I matriculated.”
Selepe has made it through three tough years of studies and graduated with a B.Sc in Actuarial Science from the University of Witwatersrand at a ceremony in March this year. He has already landed a job in the actuarial science field and is excited about his future prospects.
Mbuweni has seen similar success after being awarded a bursary from the Southern Highveld Community Development Trust after she matriculated in 2015. Having excelled in accounting at school and realising at an early age that she had a love for numbers, Mbuweni went on to study at the University of Witwatersrand thanks to the Trust, and also graduated with a B. Accounting Science in March this year. Mbuweni describes this a milestone she has reached with the support of the Trust and says, “Having them is like having a second family away from home.”
“Education is an incredibly powerful tool and the future of South Africa’s youth depends on opportunities like these,” says Peermont Trust Manager, Jenny Findlay. “It gives Peermont and the teams directly involved such a huge sense of pride to be involved in changing the narrative for these incredible young people and getting them a step closer to realising their dreams through the work of the Trusts, and we’re looking forward to seeing their careers soar in the not too distant future.”
Peermont sponsors full scholarships for deserving matriculants from the Ekurhuleni district through the Peermont Education Trust. By offering a mentorship programme and holistic support throughout the student’s tertiary years, the Trust has been able to achieve an 85% graduation rate. To date, the Trust has celebrated 120 graduates in various fields of study including commerce, engineering, medical technology and physics.
The Southern Highveld Community Development Trust (SHCDT) sponsors underprivileged youth from the Secunda area with scholarships, internships and learnerships. The SHCDT also ensures the learners have the emotional support they need to succeed, through the help of mentors available to the students throughout their studies and beyond.