“Mandela Day Student” Fulfils his Family’s Dreams
The bursary was provided by the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES), collaborating with the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA).
Living in the rural Maqongqo area in KwaZulu-Natal, Mkhize’s family faced numerous challenges, including having to rely for a time solely on child grants they received for four of their five children.
This placed tertiary education out of reach, until CAES and COGTA stepped in to provide a full bursary for Mkhize, who wanted to study Agricultural Management to get the skills he needed to help improve conditions for his family and others who rely on subsistence farming.
‘Young people in developing countries tend to shy away from agriculture but what interested me about agriculture, particularly agricultural management, is that agriculture is important for the future of development,’ said Mkhize.
‘Agriculture also provides young people with a viable way to harvest success and grow a sustainable future.’
Despite having to juggle new challenges such as time management at university, Mkhize triumphed, persevering to ensure he was progressing in understanding what he was learning. He also found great enjoyment in his degree, since it exposed him to diverse fields from Commerce to Science.
Mkhize advised other students not to simply find easy ways to complete an assignment but to ensure that they understood the concepts they were learning. He also called for effective time management, saying that a study timetable helped him avoid completing assignments at the last minute.
As the first in his family to be accepted at a university, Mkhize has been motivated to set the example for his four younger sisters by working hard and aiming “for the stars”.
Mkhize is now doing an Honours degree in Agricultural Management, investigating the role of supermarkets in developing countries and their impact on small-scale farmers.
He acknowledged the importance of God in his life, and expressed gratitude to his academic leader Professor Gerald Ortmann for his valuable advice and encouragement.
‘I would like to express my whole-hearted thanks to Mr Sibusiso Ngwane (Secretary: KwaZulu-Natal Provincial House of Traditional Leaders) for his unreserved assistance when I was still looking for a university to study at,’ said Mkhize.
He also thanked his colleague Mr Malibongwe Nxumalo for his inspiring suggestions, moral support and unreserved encouragement, and his family and friends for their belief in him.