Boost for deserving students

SOYISO MALITI

Three students from Brackenfell and Kuils River were among 19 tertiary students who received the Department of Transport and Public Works’ 2016 Masakh’iSizwe bursary, last Tuesday.

The bursary programme awards qualifying students and focuses on facilitating the development of the skills identified as scarce and critical, the department said.

Jean-Pierre Mostert, of Ferndale, Brackenfell, had been trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life.

He eventually enrolled to study electrical engineering at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s (CPUT) Bellville campus in 2013.

But as he was unemployed and his retired dad was unable to support him, Mr Mostert faced costs of over R25 000 before he could even set foot in his first lecture.

He laboured through the first year, having to work during the holidays in order to raise the funds but, by the end of the year, he still owed over R10 000.

However, thanks to him scoring good marks, the Department of Public Works and Transport awarded him a bursary.

“The effort they went through meant everything. It’s a good thing and I hope will continue to help others as well.”

He said electrical engineering had been a life-long passion of his. His love for it had been reignited during his break, while working for an entertainment company, where he fixed electrical components.

“I realised that without a degree these days it’s nearly impossible to go anywhere,” said a grateful Mr Mostert, who is now completing his BTech qualification.

Civil engineering graduate, Gary Kirby, of Sarepta, Kuils River, said he majored in waste water as well as in three other subjects, including hydrology, hydraulics, and water retention.

Mr Kirby is currently enrolled at UCT for another degree in waste water management.

He passed waste water with a final mark of 91 percent at CPUT and he is looking to emulate his pass marks at his new university.

Caleb Hillier, a Protea Heights, Brackenfell, resident said he had to get a private loan to pay for his first-year fees but the department accepted his application for a bursary for his next year of study.

“The department has a very good support system to help you get experience you would normally get in eight years; they fast-track it down to two.

“They swap you between departments and make sure that you submit reports,” said Mr Hillier, who bagged 10 distinctions out of 20 subjects over a period of three years.

The programme has awarded 361 new bursaries to deserving students in the last five years.

Donald Grant, MEC for Transport and Public Works, said the ceremony for Masakh’isizwe – which translates to “Let’s build the nation” – coincided with June being Youth Month.

Addressing the excited bursars and their families at the gathering in the department’s boardroom, Mr Grant said the programme, which started in 2006, had been a concerted effort to respond to the future and current capacity demands of the department, municipalities and 10 private companies which formed the bursary.

“Looking back at the history and track record of Masakh’iSizwe Bursary Programme since its inception during 2006, we can be proud of the support we have given to many deserving award beneficiaries.

“Our department, together with our Bursary Collaboration Venture partners, has supported many bursars in the transport, engineering and built engineering and built environment to obtain their qualifications as technicians, technologist or professional graduates in various disciplines.”

He said the department had also been contacted by researchers to use the programme as a yardstick.

“We have also maintained a 100 percent success rate for the past six years regarding the co-ordination and facilitation of placement and rotation of our interns, to ensure that they receive the required exposure, experience (and) training at the competency level as determined by the relevant higher education institutions.”

He also thanked the University of Cape Town, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and Stellenbosch University for being part of the venture.