Higher Education Opportunities for Masiphumelele Students

For the past ten years Masicorp has been running a student bursary program that has allowed over fifty students from Masiphumelele to access tertiary education in Cape Town.  In South Africa, tertiary education is partially State funded through a student loan scheme and, for some vocational courses, a State bursary. The Masicorp bursary provides the additional support that can permit students to complete the full three or four years of a degree course.

Succeeding in higher education is about much more than just meeting the costs of the course. In South Africa the national drop-out rate is over 60%, even for well-funded students. By providing mentoring that includes course selection and one to one guidance throughout the duration of a course, Masicorp has managed to bring the drop-out rate down to just 15% for students on the bursary program. Students that have performed well during secondary school and have met university entrance requirements are invited by Masicorp to apply for a bursary.

As well as covering course fees and providing study materials, including a lap-top the bursary covers the cost of a hall place. Accommodation away from the hustle and bustle of township life provides a quiet study environment for all students. An experienced mentor — a member of our Masicorp team —acts as their friend, guide and advisor throughout their time in the bursary programme and particularly in that difficult first semester when the transition away from family life must be managed. Masicorp organises regular progress reviews and meetings for the students, in which they can swap experiences with each other.

Usually we hope to fund five students through courses of their choice. For example, here is the class of 2010 at one of their regular get-togethers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe are again fortunate to have found sponsors for five students to start in January 2014. We do however need more sponsors for following years. Could you help us find sponsors or even consider sponsoring a student yourself?

The cost of our bursary for a 3 or 4 year course is R16,500 annually [$2,000/£1,250]. Sponsors can support an individual student or share the costs with family or friends or contribute any amount to our general bursary fund. You will receive an annual progress report from our team and your sponsored student. In addition you will receive the satisfaction that you are providing one of Masiphumelele’s young adults with the one genuine route out of poverty – an education.

For more information please contact our bursary programme director, Marjan Ritchie (marjan@masicorp.org / +27 [0]83 273 5353).

Masifunde – Let’s Read

Some time ago Masicorp were approached by Ann Salmon, an experienced reading teacher from the UK who lives in South Africa for six months of the year. Ann wanted to spend her time in South Africa productively and began tutoring small groups of struggling readers at Ukhanyo Primary School in Masiphumelele. Masicorp has helped to extend the program during the time that Ann is away and has brought a South African reading specialist, Jane Futter, on board. The program has become known as “Masifunde” or “Let’s Read”.

readingLike many sub-Saharan African countries, in South Africa the first few years of primary education is delivered in the pupil’s home language. In Masiphumelele this means students learn in isiXhosa until they reach grade 10 when the medium shifts to English. Prior to grade 10 all pupils will have been learning 1-3 hours per week of English but for those that have struggled to pick up the language the sudden transition to English can be a time of great difficulty. Sadly many struggling students drop out of education at this stage with severe repercussions for their future prospects. This is the group that Masifunde is providing help for.

Extra English tuition has been timetabled into the existing curriculum with the assistance of the school’s teachers. Ann and Jane have recruited a team of three experienced volunteers to help deliver the program and currently it reaches 120 students in grades 2 and 3.

The program has received a further boost with assistance from Wordworks. Wordworks is an NGO that was established in 2005 to support and improve the early language and literacy development of children in South Africa. Following a meeting with Jane earlier this year Wordworks have kindly agreed to donate two sets of their training materials to the program and recently visited the school to train Jane and her team of volunteers. After working primarily with English and Afrikaans medium schools, Ukhanyo will become the first isiXhosa medium school where their teaching materials have been used. Masifunde will start using Wordworks materials from October 2013 and the development represents an exciting step forward for both Masicorp and Wordworks.

The Foundations are laid at the Home of Love

This was another big week for the Ekhaya Lothando pre-school in Masiphumelele. After receiving the required permission from the city building inspectors the foundations of the new buildings were scheduled to be laid on Monday. Since we last reported on progress there has been a run of miserable winter weather that has left everyone wondering if winter will ever end. We have even seen snow on Table Mountain.

Great credit to the guys on the ground then for getting the site ready to receive the cement.

groundSadly the day got off to a bad start with news of the cement truck having broken down somewhere near Ottery. So a few frustrated faces were left to double check the plans for the day. At least it gave a little more time to source much needed wheelbarrows and clear the front year ready for the delivery.

waitingIt all came good in the end. A repaired truck arrived around midday and the guys were soon in action pouring cement. With a week of sunshine forecast now that Spring is here it looks like good progress will be made.



A group of FACE founders emptied their cellars for the early morning ‘joy’ of turning long discarded items into money at the Greenfields Boot Fair near Upnor, Kent.

A total of six car loads disgorged their contents thanks to Stena and Steve, Jacqui and Bette,Di and John, Joy and Phil, Marion and Nick and even Kaye and Steve from Brisbane, being our Australian branch on tour.

Highlight of the sales had to be the £100 John got for his collection of old postcards, which brought a mix of admiration and envy from the rest of us as we traded chipped vases and unwanted clothes for a handful of pence.

It’s hard to describe how you feel when you offer a £120 John Lewis lamp for £1, only for the potential purchaser to decide against it because they were worried about the cost of buying a bulb to put in it ! However many people who started haggling paid the full price when told the proceeds were all for charity and others unimpressed by the junk on offer kindly made donations in any case.

Anyway the moans turned to happy munching with a lunch for all at the nearby Kings Arms where the piles of coins were totted up to reveal a haul of about £540, which with Gift Aid will take it to more than £650. But everyone agreed that an equally important benefit was the knowledge that our cellars were at least a lot less cluttered than before.

Joy's face says it all when it comes to the joy of boot fairs!

Joy’s face says it all when it comes to the joy of boot fairs!

Marion, Kaye and Di at one of the six stalls.

Marion, Kaye and Di at one of the six stalls.


Three FACE supporters put their best feet forward for 13.2 miles when they completed a half marathon in East Kent in the sunshine and heat of the first day of September.
For Scott Elsey and Jordan Jenkins it was all part of their training for the BIG ONE…when they run the Loch Ness Marathon in Scotland at the end of September and for which they half notched up more than £1,500 in sponsorship. The pair managed the gruelling hilly route around Margate just on the two hour mark, which was a real sign their training is paying off.
Not far behind was experienced marathon man Mark Bradley who came back to long distance running on behalf of FACE, and proved a few more years under the belt was no hindrance as he also notched up a highly creditable time.
FACE Half Marathon 1.9.13

The Sewing Café helps out Reddam House

This year Reddam House, one of Cape Town’s most well regarded private schools will be putting on a production of Peter Pan as their primary school play. This is good news for Masiphumelele because the ladies of the Sewing Café have been tasked with producing 125 costumes for the grade 1 and 3 pupils involved.

1 sewing The Sewing Café is located in a non-profit skills training centre on the edge of Masiphumelele and forms part of Masicorp’s adult education training program. The training program is managed by Athene Kannmeyer and offers 25 unemployed and unskilled members of the community the opportunity to develop their sewing skills with a view to starting their own business or joining the job market. Applicants are interviewed and can be accepted onto the one year course, which Masicorp has been able to keep free of charge.

During the course the students also learn essential English and IT skills. They start by producing an individual item of clothing as part of their own specific project. As they become more skilled there are more opportunities for commercial activities.

Recently in an attempt to increase the self sufficiency of the project the Sewing Café has launched its own website.

After already producing materials for local guest houses the project for Reddam House is their biggest commercial endeavour so far. Here is hoping for many projects to come their way in the future.

2 sewing