The Siyandisa Foundation Scholarship Programme has delivered an exceptional crop of learners over the past three years, each class delivering an astonishing amount of distinctions at the end of matric through benefiting from the invaluable support the scholarship programme provides. However, in light of the extreme challenges the Covid-19 pandemic poses to South African scholars, 2020 is sure to be the year in which especially the access to quality additional academic support the scholarships provide, will highlight the definite advantage the programme gives its recipients.
Not only was the class of 2020’s academic year unfortunately and abruptly disrupted by the global health pandemic which not only interfered with teaching and learning across the globe, but it also robbed this group of exceptional young learners from low-income households of attending the 2020 Siyandisa Foundation Scholarships Awards event.
The prestigious annual event which was scheduled to take place on 17 April this year, would have been hosted in partnership with the Thaba Eco Hotel, south of Johannesburg. With plans and preparations already finalised, it unfortunately had to be suddenly cancelled due to the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus which resulted in a national lockdown in March 2020. These 50 recipients and their respective principals would have also been flown to the event from all corners of South Africa courtesy of SA Airlink, who is the Foundation’s travel sponsorship partner.
Despite there not being an awards event, the Foundation and relevant learners’ schools collaborated to ensure that all scholars received their scholarship packages, even in areas which had been identified as Covid-19 hotspots. The package includes state of the art tablets and free data access as a technology platform for learning and academic engagement. With these tools, recipients gain access to custom produced high-quality online learning content targeted at matriculation examination preparation.
Excited to receive their packages, this is what some of the 2020 recipients had to say:
“Thank you very much for the opportunity. I am elated and cannot express my gratitude. Thank you very much for your aid and investment into making my future brighter and more successful. May the Lord bless and keep you safe at all times”, said Thembelihle Tsengane, a learner from Little Flower Combined School in KwaZulu-Natal.
Gladwin Ngobeni from Sevengwana High School in Limpopo wrote: “I write this email with excitement as I've just received the promised package. Mom and Dad are very happy and they also believe that this will help me a lot after being affected by the pandemic. You've brought the widest smile to my face.”
Another excited learner from Little Flower Combined School, Eerin Bharath, shared: “I’m extremely grateful for all the resources that have been included in the package. My family and I were overwhelmed with joy when I finally received these resources which have already been put to use and have been helping me make improvements to my learning style and capabilities. The videos that have been loaded onto the tablet have proven to be very useful and informative. The stationery and books will also be very useful in helping me study and complete my upcoming assignments. I am sincerely grateful for everything.”
A vital part of the scholarship is that it gives access to dedicated career counsellors assisting with crucial career and tertiary study preparation, as well as access to personal mentors to strengthen many of the learners’ soft skills aimed at helping them surmount the difficult circumstances they are faced with. In addition, scholars receive stationery, power banks, a financial incentive of R1, 000 per matriculation distinction achieved and the opportunity to quality for high value bursaries of R50,000 each toward their tertiary studies.
“We have worked tirelessly over the past few years, and we remain committed to the scholars and the objectives of the programme even as this pandemic has certainly challenged our human capabilities on various levels”, says Cikizwa Bacela, the Foundation’s Programme Coordinator. “None of us could have prepared for the impact of this unfortunate disaster and we are concerned for all learners across South Africa and in particular those who do not have access to the necessary resources to enable them to, at the very least, survive the remaining year even under these conditions.” She further remarks,”we have seen, now more than ever, the importance of our and other similar programmes that aim to empower learners through critical tools and educational resources to be proactive and thoroughly equipped to respond swiftly and wisely against ever-changing tides.”
The Foundation’s Chairman Sam Moleko had this to say on the 2020 Scholarship recipients: “It is our desire at Siyandisa to nurture our scholars, to support and empower them through this particular year where they’re facing not only the ‘normal‘ disadvantageous circumstances of many young black learners in South Africa’s quintiles 1 to 3 schools, but are now facing a global pandemic as well.
“Having had to face not going to school for a very long time, due to a national lockdown as a result of the Covid19 pandemic, we hope that our scholars find the resources provided by the Siyandisa Foundation Scholarship Programme useful and optimise the benefits it provides to ensure that they too exit high school with results that will further unlock future opportunities.”
This unique scholarship programme that seeks to empower top performing black scholars from low-income households across South Africa is now in its fourth year, and boasts scholars who have transitioned from attaining excellent results at the end of matric to being well-performing tertiary students registered at mainstream universities in the country.
Focused on helping to grow South Africa by investing in the leaders of tomorrow, the programme aims to support them in maintaining their brilliance, even more so during the current unprecedented time of uncertainty, and understands that a lot is expected from the class of 2020 – more than from any previous class. They’ve certainly proven their capabilities so far and we are confident that with the display of academic strength and ability at the end of their grade 11 year, the same greatness will be exhibited for this current group which is spread across all nine provinces. The class of 2020 comprises of 31 female scholars and 19 male scholars, with provincial representation spread as follows: Eastern Cape: 4; Western Cape: 3; Northern Cape 2; Free State: 11; Mpumalanga: 5; Gauteng: 2; Limpopo: 19; Kwazulu-Natal: 3 and North-West: 1.
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