While there have been many barriers to productivity in the last few weeks for these students, one thing we can be sure of is that they do not lack motivation or determination. The goals and dreams spoken about by our interviewees was nothing short of inspirational. Kwanele wants to improve aeroplane and rocket fuel efficiency to help the environment and progress human scientific exploration. He will be an innovator. Tezra hopes to improve water management, security, and quality in her rural community and beyond. It is important to her that her community has safe water, and she wants to help make that happen. She will be a life-saver. Nhlayiso, on his path to being a lawyer, has been fascinated by the legal system since he was a boy – constantly reading law books in his spare time. He will fight for justice. John wants to provide better access to education for children living with disabilities in his community. He said that it was watching his younger brother struggle with his disability that motivated him to pursue this career. He will be a life-changer. In fact, these are the people who will change the world.
But this is not exactly surprising. Since its inception, the CLEF bursary has been incredibly impactful and has helped nurture students into adults who can be looked up to by their communities and indeed, whoever they meet. The programme first and foremost aims to empower individuals. As you can imagine, this results in students who are passionate and dedicated to their chosen area of study. Secondly, the programme does not fully fund a student’s university education. The CLEF bursary is a partial bursary and students must fundraise or obtain other bursaries to fulfill the full fee of their studies. This is hugely empowering as it places responsibility on the student and the community to support and prioritise university education, creating students who have a sense of ownership over their degree. The benefits of this are clearly visible now when all of our students are adapting to their new challenges and finding solutions that work for them. Thirdly, the CLEF programme, its programme manager Nonhlahla, and the entire CLEF community compromising of past and present students, creates a strong network where students can access emotional, mental and practical support from their peers and the adults involved in running the CLEF programme. This third point has been one of the more crucial aspects of our CLEF students managing lockdown, as each of them said the support they receive from the CLEF network has helped them tremendously – not just to study but also to stay positive.