Supporting the dreams of young foreign nationals

For many young people who reside in countries outside of their place of birth, securing funding for their education is nothing but a pipe dream. 

In 2020, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NFSAS) received over 300 000 applications for funding of higher education. Often, young people who don’t reside in their home countries don’t have access to government funding. Unfortunately, many refugees and asylum seekers contend with the very same dilemma across Africa. They are limited by their foreign national status.

At Mukuru we believe in education, but we also understand the strife that young people from foreign countries face. Education shouldn’t be limited to a select few. It’s a necessity to ensure that everyone can live their best lives and make a significant contribution to society – in whichever community or country that may be. 

Mukuru has stepped in to support the dreams of two foreign national students, Triphin Mudzenvengi and Ngonidzashe Tinago originally from Zimbabwe who both live in South Africa. 

In the same year that NFSAS issued their statistics, Triphin Mudzenvengi struggled to fund her university fees. Although she had obtained seven distinctions as a matriculant, she did not qualify for scholarships and bursaries because, having arrived in South Africa with her parents from Zimbabwe in 2010, she is a foreign national. This excluded her from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. Due to her family’s financial constraints, Triphin was not able to enrol at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) where her application had been accepted. After Triphin’s heartfelt pleas were heard Mukuru made it a point to contribute R100 000 towards her university fees to obtain a BSC in Chemical Engineering – giving Triphin much needed support. 

Triphin has commenced her second year of studies and says that Mukuru’s decision to once again assist her has left her feeling more hopeful about achieving her dream of becoming a Chemical Engineer one day.

“I’m in my second year at Wits. It’s been such a relief knowing that my accommodation and university fees have been paid for. I’m very excited about the future. Once I’ve completed my studies I may apply for a job or continue studying towards my Masters.”

Triphin says she’s a role model to her two younger siblings and looks forward to when she’s able to support them in obtaining their educational dreams. “I’m studying not only to achieve my personal goals but to also help my family. I’m especially determined to complete my degree because my younger siblings look up to me.” 

Ngonidzashe Tinago, another foreign national student, also found it incredibly difficult to secure funding for his studies. With Mukuru’s assistance, Tinago is now able to study towards obtaining a degree in Data Science at the Sol Plaatjie University in Northern Cape. He says, “At one point I didn’t see how I could study. After all, I knew I wouldn’t be able to secure a bursary because I’m a foreign national.”

As it stands, today Tinago spends less time worrying about how to fund his studies and more time focusing on obtaining his degree, “I’m grateful to Mukuru for giving me a reason not to give up.”

Mukuru’s core mission is to support those who are primarily excluded from the traditional financial sector. By supporting young foreign nationals in pursuit of their educational dreams, not only are they able to rebuild and build better lives for themselves and their families, but they also become an integral part of building a strong economy that benefits Africa in its entirety.