July 2023.

Education holds the key to addressing inequality and poverty that persists in South Africa, with one of the most effective tools being to increase the number and quality of educators. This is the rationality behind the scarce skills bursary programme that specifically benefits students in the Northern Cape communities of Pofadder, Onseepkans and Pella.

Funded by the nearby Konkoonsies Solar Power, the programme has been running for almost six years and has already funded a cohort of educators, the majority of which have returned to these communities to teach. A recent beneficiary, Cyvanique Brandt (20) completed a Higher Certificate in Childhood Education, in 2022, and has commenced her Bachelor of Education in Intermediate Phase.

Konkoonsies Solar Power supported her during her one-year course doing the Higher Certificate and will continue supporting her throughout her next four years of study, and it is hoped that she too will return to her home town of Pofadder to teach.

“Teaching in the intermediate phase allows me to help learners build upon the foundation they established in their earlier years of schooling, and prepare them for the more complex concepts they will encounter in high school and beyond. This is a critical time in a student’s educational journey, as they begin to develop more advanced critical thinking and problem-solving skills,” said Cyvanique.

Born and raised in Pofadder, Cyvanique relocated to Cape Town to pursue her ambition of working in education – a dream that was inspired by her grandmother who also worked as an educator and her role model. When interviewed, she tells that the bursary has had a significant amount of impact and change in her life. She has been able to focus all of her attention on her studies and she doesn’t have to worry about finances, because previously she did not have a stipend or the financial means to study further. It also removed the burden off of her parents and they do not have to worry about her education.

“I believe that teaching is an important role, and I am excited for the opportunity to make a positive impact in my student’s lives. Furthermore, teaching in this phase is incredibly rewarding, as learners are enthusiastic and eager to learn, and it is incredibly fulfilling to see them grow and develop over the course of the school year,” she adds.

The bursary programme is specifically offered to students wishing to pursue degrees or certificates in education, agriculture or nursing, as these skill have been identified, to specifically be of value in the support of this area’s economic development.

“I’d like to return to my community – especially as the resources in Pofadder regarding education are somewhat limited. The bursary gives me the opportunity to support my community – but I’ll need to see where life takes me and I may even like to study further one day,” concluded Cyvanique.

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