Here is the report from Silibona Education Trust one of the many charities supported by the ProFundCom Foundation.
In the wake of last year’s national student fees crisis, two UCT alumni were prompted to step forward with an initiative to assist students aspiring towards a university degree. Yaw Peprah and Clinton Martin (pictured above) have been friends since their student days at UCT’s Faculty of Commerce. Enthused with the philosophy that we may not change the world but we can surely change one person’s world, Yaw dipped into his network by e-mail and used a Facebook post to garner support. Clinton responded with the idea of setting up a formal trust to manage the contributions. Just over a year later, with the help of 2 other trustees and 5 Exco members, the Silibona Education Trust has 32 people pledging almost R1,300,000 over four years to help fund undergraduate studies.
Yaw and Clinton are currently working with UCT’s Student Financial Aid office to set up the bursary programme which will benefit a number of students, focussing especially on study streams that do not receive many bursary donors. Central to the vision of the Trust is the idea of students being empowered to make impactful change on the social development sector of the country. First generation university students will also be prioritised, given the impact that they make in increasing the social capital of communities where few youth have an opportunity to pursue tertiary studies. In the same spirit, donors of the Trust are called to go beyond just a financial contribution and to also demonstrate their involvement through mentoring and networking prospects for bursary recipients.
As the struggle for affordable quality higher education continues, Yaw and Clinton share the view that we cannot afford to simply wait on government and the business sector to provide answers. “We have to get involved and do it for ourselves,” says Clinton. “If public universities like UCT continue to struggle financially, then privatised universities will grow and result in higher education becoming more exclusive.” Yaw believes in the need for empathy, taking stock of the scars that poverty leaves on the life paths of our country’s youth. As the labour market evolves into one of increased professionalization, and fewer youth can afford a university degree, then inequality and social disadvantage will become insurmountable challenges.
Having always wanted to make a contribution to the plight of students in need of support, the Silibona Education Trust is the realisation of a long standing objective for Yaw and Clinton. They have both established successful careers in the financial investment sector, with Yaw as Chief Business Officer at Wesgro and Clinton as Financial Manager at Coronation Fund Managers. They both nurture fond memories of their student days at UCT in the early 1990’s, a time when South Africa experienced momentous political change. In this same spirit of tenacity and resolve, Yaw and Clinton believe that our current higher education challenges can be overcome through cumulative efforts that bring about sustainable solutions.
The Impact Made
The Silibona Trust Scholarship blessed me with so much more than I expected in these years. I was blessed with an amazing mentor who is still a part of my life today. I was blessed with new sisters.Our very own sisterhood. Sisters who continue to amaze me and encourage me as they take on the world after varsity. Most importantly I was blessed with the key to success. I am really grateful for having been part of the scholarship programme as this has not only sown into my career but my life as a whole. Thank you to everyone who contributed. You made a big difference in my life and I hope that one day I can give back to the trust too.
I will always be eternally grateful that I was chosen to be one of the recipients of this amazing trust, because of them I had a sense of security throughout the duration of my degree. Silibona helped me achieve my dream of becoming an Occupational therapist in record time, as a result I am currently employed and giving back my services to my community. I hope Silibona continues to help young women to become independent as well as confident in their abilities.
After finishing my first year at University my mother informed me that she was unable to pay for my second year and I would have to take a break , however the trust gave me an opportunity to finish not only my undergrad degree but also my honors degree in psychology. I will forever be grateful for their helping hand and hope one day I can contribute to help other children who are in the same situation as I was
Completing 2 qualifications at the age of 21 means the world to me. I am grateful to Silibona for directly contributing towards making my dreams a reality
I am writing this email to show appreciation to the Silibona trust for the amazing and wonderful work and impact they have made in my life through funding me at the University of Cape town. I feel blessed because the funding Silibona trust made available to me has helped me a lot in the past 4 years of my university life. Silibona trust has provided funding towards my tuition fees for res and the courses taken under the Bachelor’s of Social Work degree. I want to thank everyone the team, donors and everyone at Silibona trust because through them my dream of being a social worker will be fulfilled through them. I am very grateful and happy to have been one of the chosen one’s to be funded by the trust, it has made a lot of difference in my life and I’m very thankful. God bless everyone and may God bless the trust so that it can continue doing the wonderful work it’s doing for the youth.
Without the kind and generous hearts of the people from the Silibona Trust, I do not think that I would be standing here today as a successful Psychology and Anthropology Graduand from the University of Cape Town (UCT). When it seemed impossible for me to register for my final year of studies due to my financial situation at the time, the generous hearts from the Silibona Trust made a way. Moreover, Silibona connected me with an amazing mentor from whom I have learned much about the working world. I am now weeks away from embarking on my journey in pursuing my Honours degree in Clinical Psychology at UCT and I am ever so grateful for all the people behind the SIlibona Trust. I pray that their hands would be blessed immensely
Graduate feels equipped to take on leadership roles
Ms Sonke Magadlela, who graduated from UKZN with a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree, says she learned a lot about human behaviour during her studies and now feels equipped with the necessary skills to take on leadership roles in her community. Magadlela – funded through a bursary from the Silibona Education Trust – paid tribute to the NGO, which also mentored her during her undergraduate years. ‘Receiving the bursary dispelled my financial worries and through a partnership with Shaping Futures Foundation, my debt was cleared. ‘From the bottom of my heart, I thank them,’ she said. Founded in 2016, Silibona has so far mentored and funded18 young women graduates, two of whom are from UKZN and the remainder from the University of Cape Town. The Silibona Education Trust provides financial support and mentoring to help female students complete their tertiary studies. The mentorship programme also provides support to deal with day-to-day challenges. According to Ms Mandy Cobbing who runs the Durban programme, it is designed to pair each student with a female mentor, who provides counselling. The mentors and mentees communicate regularly and meet at least three times a year. ‘The mentorship session is a safe space for the students to talk about any current challenges and to get advice and support from their mentor,’ said Cobbing. ‘Students are encouraged to guide the mentorship relationship which if functioning well can provide a platform that gives the mentees the assurance that they are not alone, gives them insight into how their challenges could be overcome, and gives them the support and confidence to continue.’ Magadlela, who says the mentorship programme ‘has had a profound effect on my life,’ now plans to pursue postgraduate studies. Her advice to other students is: ‘Believe in yourself.’