Empowering Youth: ITHUBA’s Bursary Programme Promotes Education and Transformation

By Mashamba Media

In South Africa, unemployment stats have improved marginally in 2023. According to Business Tech, Statistics South Africa’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey release indicates a slight drop in the country’s unemployment rate. The official unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 % but remains at 32.7%.

The issue of employment is an even greater stumbling block for students who want to obtain tertiary education to make them wholly more employable but are unable to do so due to financial constraints.

Many remarkable young students are achieving high results but find themselves in a conundrum when even the registration fee is too big an ask.

Bursary opportunities are lifelines to students in these cases, making it possible for them to pursue a greater level of education and ensuring they will have employment opportunities that will truly be life-changing. Gifts like these are important not only to the students but to their families too, as the ripple effect of education is widespread, acting as the conduit for positive forward movement and opportunity.

The ITHUBA Bursary Programme, sponsored by ITHUBA Holdings, the National Lottery Operator, is one such initiative. ITHUBA’s Bursary Programme ensures that the recipients’ basic needs are met and it offers full financial and emotional support.

The bursary programme ensures that the recipients’ basic needs are met, and full financial and emotional support is provided. With its holistic approach ensuring the bursars’ overall well-being and stability, they have the best chance to complete their studies and build up confidence successfully.

The Bursary programmes in this vein are rare finds. ITHUBA has been the National Lottery Operator since 2015 and in their eight years since, has consistently set a high bar for excellence in all that they do. Through their continual pursuit of excellence in gaming, ITHUBA has been recognised as the top operator in Africa and has also achieved many awards.

The heart of ITHUBA embraces the value it holds as a corporate entity that gives back and uplifts local communities, changing the lives of ordinary citizens. As a tenacious company that thrives to improve the lives of ordinary South Africans, education is paramount to their efforts in doing so. The ITHUBA Scholarship Programme was started with the vision to assist previously disadvantaged youths to pursue their tertiary education.

Started initially under ITHUBA’s parent company, Zamani Holdings, ITHUBA took ownership of this programme, and has been successfully running it as an annual Corporate Social Outreach Programme. ITHUBA runs many other life-enriching initiatives, including housing programmes. However, their bursary programme specifically focuses on empowering the heroes of tomorrow, which is why it remains so important to their CEO, Charmaine Mabuza.

Mabuza says she recognises the critical role that bursary programmes play in shaping the future of students, which is why their offering is holistic and includes full tuition, study tools, accommodation, meal and personal care allowances, mentorship and counselling programmes to its beneficiaries.

“Together, we can create a brighter future for students by ensuring that bursary programmes thrive and continue to open doors to countless opportunities,” said Mabuza.

The programme allows candidates wishing to study in IT, Marketing, Accounting and Engineering to apply, and has seen many successful past students go on to achieve their degrees and pursue their dream jobs.

Among the students that are studying this year is Sphamandla Mbuyazi (19). He is currently in the second year of his computer science degree at the University of the Witwatersrand, and intends to become a data scientist. Mbuyazi wants to get a stable job that will allow him to help his father and care for his family of ten.

He says that he is inspired to do well and is grateful for the full financial backing of ITHUBA, as his first year of studies was through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

“I left NSFAS because some of the things required to study for Computer Science, I  couldn’t afford. So, I applied for an ITHUBA bursary, and now all my requirements are fully covered,” he said.

Olebogene Balaseng (20) is also studying Computer Science, and he feels that this bursary is his opportunity to improve his family situation and to honour his deceased mother, who single-handedly raised him and his three brothers.

Balaseng says that he is learning a lot about self-discipline in his pursuit to become a top Software Developer and that the counselling interventions ITHUBA provides are invaluable. “Apart from financial assistance, ITHUBA provides us with counsellors who you can call anytime, and they offer us advice if necessary. When faced with mental health issues like depression and anxiety, they are there to assist you.”

Lundi Ramokonyane (23), is one of the older applicants. Although he was a high achiever at a high-school level , his dire financial situation left him unable even to pay for the registration fee for his Mining Engineering degree. In the years since he left school, he has been tutoring younger students, and his high school maths teacher alerted him to the chance the ITHUBA bursary programme could provide him.

After a successful application, he has said that he is thoroughly enjoying the first year of his degree and that he vows to make ITHUBA proud that they took a chance on him, saying that he would ensure he finishes his course on time.

Thulisile Nature (21), has also been tutoring since matriculating in 2019, and is resolute that she will not only get her degree in Computer Science but will go on to get her master’s degree and hopes to build her own business in time. Nature outlined the additional benefits they get from the ITHUBA bursary programme, saying that she is grateful for this opportunity and that being able to focus on her studies, without any hindrance fully is the true gift.

It remains clear that Ubuntu and the spirit of the interconnection that grows successful communities is thriving through this bursary programme. ITHUBA’s commitment to continued excellence shines through their tertiary education endeavour, and their dedication to the current students is tangible.

ITHUBA will remain the Operator that goes above and beyond their call of duty.

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