A New Start for Our Bursary Students

Today sees the start of a new academic term at universities across the Western Cape. The final few of our continuing bursary students have returned to their student residences over the weekend. They have been joined by seven new students, for which we must thank the generosity of our sponsors in the United States and the UK. It was actually a very difficult process to select the new students this year, with a record number of applications coming from Masiphumelele students that had completed high school in Masiphumelele, Fish Hoek, Simons Town, and Ocean View. It is pleasing to see that awareness and interest in the programme seems to be expanding each year amongst Masiphumelele learners.

new computerWe met up with the seven new students at Masiphumelele library this weekend to complete the formalities of accepting the bursary. Each student was introduced to their mentor, who will be both their guide and friend in the weeks of study to come. We also provided each student with their laptop computer, which comes as part of the bursary. The importance of this was highlighted by Lindokhule’s experiences last year. She is already in the second year of her course, but completed the first year without assistance because she did not think her grades would be good enough to make an application to Masicorp. She completed the year whilst living in Masiphumelele and travelling to and from CPUT for her course in Operations Management.

computersLindokhule (seen here accepting her new laptop) had to complete her assignments after waiting for a computer to become available in the university computer room after lectures. It was then a two hour commute home before starting again the following day. This determination made a big impression on the bursary team during her interview and a place in residence and her own computer to work on should be seen as a big reward for her hard work so far. The other new students will be studying a popular range of courses including pharmacy, accounting, mechanical engineering and law.

After meeting the bursary team and their mentors the students were taken for their first class of the year – setting up their laptops and training in how to use the new machines. Once again we thank the Yenza Internet Café for providing the location and staff from Masiphumelele library for the training. The students all left knowing that their aspirations for study at university had now become very real and we wish them all a successful year.

Computer Training

Bursary Case Study #4 – Loyiso Tunce

For most of our bursary students, the first priority after graduating is to find a job. That was not the case for Loyiso Tunce, who beaome the first of our students to complete a postgraduate qualification when he recently finished his Masters course in Town Planning at Wits University in Johannesburg. On his recent return to Masiphumelele he caught up
WITSwith Masicorp to inform us of his progress.

Masicorp has a long history with Loyiso having first met him in 2003 at a time when Masiphumelele had a middle school. Masicorp helped Loyiso to obtain a place at Fish Hoek High School, and although he initially found the new learning environment very challenging he eventually settled in. He was a keen cross country runner and ran for the school in many events across the Western Cape as well as learning new sports, such as cricket, for the first time. With the help of sponsors in the United States he became a keen reader of English literature, starting with classics such as Treasure Island and moving onto more modern material such as the Harry Potter series. In return for the books he wrote back to his sponsors in the States and tried to explain the basics of cricket to them. Clearly he relishes a challenge.

Loyiso went on to become one of our very first university bursary students and soon completed a BSc (hons) in Geography at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). For his postgraduate study Loyiso decided to move north and stayed with his uncle in Johannesburg, while he studied at Wits University. The city of Johannesburg has a very different atmosphere to the laid back tourist culture of Cape Town, and the culture and vibrancy of the city is something he was keen to experience before returning to Masiphumelele.


Loyiso worked briefly as a research assistant at Wits after he completed the course, and is now looking for similar work in Cape Town. However, his real passion is still study and he is keen to push himself one step further by enrolling for a PhD if the opportunity arises. Here is hoping that we can one day be writing about the first Masicorp bursary student to receive a doctorate.

Bursary Case Study #3 – Ziyanda Mwanda

In 2011 Ziyanda Mwanda volunteered to work at the annual Careers Indaba atZiyanda JAN 2015 Masiphumelele library, which is where she came to hear about Masicorp. At the time she was in the second year of a BSc Biotechnology course at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). She had a particular interest in forensic science, but sadly her studies were not going well due to a family illness that had forced her to leave her residence and return to Masiphumelele. She found herself working part-time and having to make the long commute by minibus and train to the campus, and the travel was catching up with her as she failed two second year modules.

Fortunately Masicorp stepped in after being impressed by both her perseverance in the face of adversity and impressive results at high school and in the first year of university. With the stability of the Masicorp bursary and associated mentoring support she was able to return to full time study. Her results improved straight away, and she both recovered her past failures and completed the course on time. We were delighted when she graduated in 2012.

Ziyanda grad picture

We met up with Ziyanda again this week to see how the degree has changed her life. Although she still lives in Masiphumelele, Ziyanda is working as a research assistant at the UWC School of Public Health (SoPH) at their campus in Cape Town. Ziyanda developed an interest in facilitating the Google groups for the Masters courses offered at SoPH. She is developing e-content for the courses and assisting the students in using google groups and software such as dropbox to store and present their work.


SoPH is well-known for its flexible, modular courses and Ziyanda’s work helps students from rural areas to access the learning material remotely. Many of the students are based overseas, in other African countries. Such is the quality of Ziyanda’s work, she will be representing the university at an international conference to be held in India later this year. Later this year she also intends to return to study by enrolling on a postgraduate course in E-Learning at UWC.

Ziyanda has come a long way since first getting involved with Masicorp. We are delighted with her success and would also like to thank her for giving back to the programme by offering to give guidance and tutoring to our current biotechnology students. It remains a popular degree option, and Ziyanda is a perfect role model for the students from Masiphumelele.

An End-of-Year Event for our Bursary Students

The end of the academic year has come around again and to celebrate Masicorp recently took our bursary students out for lunch at The Fisherman’s Pub & Grill in Kommetjie.

students   oranges me-simThanks to programme manager Susan de Vaux for providing a small gift to each student.

more penspenpensSadly not everyone could join us. At this time of year many students travel back to the Eastern Cape to visit their families. First year law student Siviwe Makelebi had already left, but we were delighted to receive this lovely message from him before he departed:

Good day

I am writing this letter to show my appreciation to the Masicorp bursary program. You might have already been told about the goodness and effectiveness of the work that you do, but I think it is of utmost importance that you are constantly reminded that your work is, indeed, touching lives.The existence of this bursary program has had a significant and a profound impact on the life of Masiphumelele community as a whole.

If it was not for the selflessness that the members and volunteers of Masicorp had shown, I would not have made it this far in life.

Believe me, your work in the community is, for all intents and purposes, changing lives. Your work deserve recognition. Unlike most bursary programs, you show concern about the well being of the students. I believe that you are the catalyst of change in that community.

I say all this from the bottom of my heart, Thank you Masicorp.


Siviwe Makeleni

Well done to all of our bursary students that have completed another year of higher education – and we look forward to another successful year in 2015.

Graduate Employment and the Masicorp Bursary Scheme

Thanks to our financial and personal support, the dropout rate for university students in the Masicorp Bursary Scheme is exceptionally low, as we recently reported. We also recently profiled two of our successful university graduates, Lungelwa Mkokeli and Olwethu Mlaza.

Further to this, our bursary team reviewed the progress of all of the university level bursary students we have supported and we are pleased to report very high employment figures for all these graduates. We wanted to compare this to national data for South Africa.

Fourteen (14) of our students have graduated and received a bachelor’s or higher degree. Of these 11 are employed, two (2) have gone on for further studies, and only one (1), a recent graduate, is unemployed. Wonderful results.


Nationally in South Africa the unemployment rate for graduates of this level is reported to be about 5%, so our students are in line with the country as a whole. This contrasts sharply with the 70% unemployment rate in the under 35 age group for South Africa that is widely reported.

We do not have comparative national data for students who do not complete university programmes or complete certificate or diploma programs. Among our students in this category, however, we are happy to see that the majority are well employed.

These data highlight how education is the route out of poverty for the children of Masiphumelele. The job opportunities for our students once they graduate from university are excellent. South Africa, while filled with myriad economic problems, has a strong market for university graduates. Much better than in certain European countries and only slightly higher than the U.S. rates which are around 3%

The Bursary Scheme is critical for our university students. It not only helps them finance their education but the support provided is key to their successful graduation rates. And Masicorp supports many other educational programs in Masiphumelele that give children in Masi a much improved chance of getting to university. Seedlings focuses on Early Childhood Development and the English, Science and new Maths Labs at the Ukhanyo Primary School support teachers and students there. There are literacy and homework programs at the library and tutoring for high school students. All are geared to enhancing future opportunities for the children of Masiphumelele.

Our graduates are doing well, and twenty-four (24) more students are currently at university. With the help of our donors we hope to add at least another six (6) students in 2015.   We’ll continue to report on the successful employment stories of our students in future blogs

Bursary Case Study #2 – Lungelwa Mkokeli

Lungelwa Mkokeli was born in the Eastern Cape in 1992. She grew up as one of seven children, all raised by her hard-working mother who had only the help of national child support grants. Despite the difficult living conditions Lungelwa performed well in school, but her mother knew her educational options would be limited at her rural school. In 2005, her mother sent her to live with her uncle in Masiphumelele, where Lungelwa could attend the local high school.

It was a difficult time for Lungelwa, away from her siblings for the first time in her life and living in a simple shack with an uncle she did not know well. The level of crime and lack of space in the dense urban community was very different from her rural home. Despite these difficulties, she settled into her new school quickly and continued to excel at most subjects. She developed a keen interest in economics and business studies – subjects that were not available in her school in the Eastern Cape.

In 2010, Lungelwa completed high school. She had visited CPUT and UWC for career exhibitions and had begun to think seriously about the possibility of higher education. She knew of Masicorp from the establishment of the Masiphumelele library and the construction of several houses in the community. When advised by a friend that there was the possibility of a university bursary through Masicorp, she immediately applied. She briefly considered studying to be a teacher in order to give back to the local children, but ultimately her dreams lay in financial management and business studies.

Lungelwa was offered a place at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) to study for a National Diploma in Management in the Faculty of Business. After impressing us with her commitment to study, Masicorp accepted her onto the bursary programme. Once again it was a difficult transition to live away from home in student residences, and she regularly returned to Masiphumelele to visit her uncle. Her studies never suffered and she passed each examination. She even found time to be house committee representative for her residence during her second and third year of study.


We were delighted when Lungelwa graduated in 2012 and equally happy in March of this year when she secured employment with a financial company in Cape Town. She still lives with her uncle in Masiphumelele and remains a good friend of Masicorp. Eager to give back to the programme that has helped her succeed at university, she has kindly offered to use her financial expertise to manage our bursary loan book on a voluntary basis. Lungelwa has been remarkably successful and we are so pleased to have her helping our bursary team.

Bursary Case Study #1 – Olwethu Mlaza

In 2006, Masicorp had not yet considered supporting students with university level education. That all changed one afternoon when Olwethu Mlaza tapped Masicorp volunteer Jill Stirrup on the shoulder and asked her for help getting to university. Having achieved good grades in mathematics, Olwethu was keen to apply his technical mind to engineering. What followed was a learning experience for Masicorp, as we began to establish a programme that would see Olwethu become our first ever bursary student and our first graduate.

olwethuAt the time, Olwethu lived with his family in Philippi on the Cape Flats. His mother was instrumental in sending him to school in Masiphumelele after becoming frustrated at the poor quality of schooling in Philippi. It was a brave decision given the complicated journey. Every day Olwethu began his commute by waking at 04.00 hrs to catch the first of two trains into Cape Town and then out of the city south toward Masiphumelele. On a good day it was at least a two-hour journey each way. Ever the resourceful student, Olwethu could often be seen on crowded trains solving maths problems with his textbooks on his lap.

In 2006, Olwethu began a National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). He balanced his studies with part-time work for the Bicycle Empowerment Network (BEN) and the Table Mountain Cable Car, but still managed successfully to work his way through the course. Some aspects of the course were difficult, with subjects such as electrical engineering being completely new to him and very difficult for all students.

In 2010, Olwethu passed his final six modules (some with distinction) and graduated with a B. Tech. Mechanical Engineering. He found work very quickly, and now works with a specialist engineering company in the fishing industry in Hout Bay. He remains employed, despite the recent economic downturn, and is now married with young children and living in the Pinelands suburb of the city. Olwethu encouraged his younger brother Mihlali to continue his studies by applying to Masicorp. Mihlali obtained a diploma at CPUT last year and is now close to completing a Bsc honours course in Biotechnology at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). Olwethu remains an inspiration to his family and all of us at Masicorp. He encouraged us to set up this valuable programme and demonstrated how it can lead to dramatic improvements in the lives of its participants.