R252m scholarship project to reverse Africa’s ‘brain drain’


    28 August 2014

    A multimillion-rand project that aims to develop 300 “committed future leaders”, drawn from economically disadvantaged communities across sub-Saharan Africa, is being launched by the University of Cape Town (UCT).

    This initiative, which will start in 2015 as part of the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, “will help reverse the effects of ‘brain drain’ on the continent”, UCT’s Kemantha Govender said in a statement on Thursday.

    The foundation has committed US$23.5-million (around R252-million) over the next 10 years to finance the project. Around 60 South African students from disadvantaged communities, as well as 240 students from other sub-Saharan countries, are expected to benefit from the programme.

    ‘Deserving candidates’

    Scholarships will be offered to deserving candidates, who would otherwise not have the economic means to study at tertiary levels. “The candidates will be educated at UCT, either as undergraduate or postgraduate students. They will then return to their home countries to apply their new skills towards contributing to social and economic progress on the continent,” Govender said.

    Max Price, the vice-chancellor of UCT, said the programme would lay the foundation for partnerships with the future academics of the continent while addressing issues of equity, social impact and postgraduate growth.

    The candidates will have the opportunity to obtain either their first degree or to advance to postgraduate studies, with postgraduate students making up 80% of the total cohort, Govender said.

    UCT will target “first-generation” students, those who will be the first members of their families to earn a university degree.


    Candidates in the programme will be required to sign a declaration that will commit them to returning home after completing their studies. “UCT will work closely with these students to help them secure internships during their studies and career placement after graduating,” Govender said.

    One of UCT’s core values is a commitment to social justice and using higher education to address inequality and poverty.

    Price said UCT would work with the MasterCard Foundation to identify and develop young people who “already have demonstrated a strong sense of commitment to their home communities”.

    The call for applications is open until 30 September.