The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programme at UP Expands Its Reach and Impact

Posted on March 04, 2024

The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programme at the University of Pretoria (UP) has done more than exceed its mission to shape the lives of academically gifted African students at global universities. It has also broadened its transformative impact by prioritising more women, refugees, internally displaced people, and people with disabilities.

This was reaffirmed recently with a seven-year commitment by the Mastercard Foundation to the transformative partnership. The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programme fosters positive change by supporting the next generation of leaders who demonstrate excellence in their field of study but face financial barriers to higher education.

In partnership with UP, the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programme was originally designed as a 10-year agreement to support 347 Mastercard Foundation Scholars (102 undergraduate and 245 postgraduate degrees). By the end of the 10-year programme at UP, the goal was exceeded, with 396 Mastercard Foundation Scholars (161 women and 235 men) receiving scholarships. Of the 396 Mastercard Foundation Scholars, two have a disability and four are refugees. Of the Programme’s Alumni, 64 percent secured jobs within three months post-graduation, both locally and globally. Some pursued entrepreneurial ventures, while others furthered their studies.

“We are profoundly grateful to the Mastercard Foundation for their unwavering commitment,” said UP Interim Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor, Themba Mosia. “Their seven-year partnership not only sustains our transformative partnership but also ensures that more students, especially those from underserved communities, can access quality education and contribute meaningfully to society. This is a testament to the Foundation’s dedication to fostering positive change and empowering the next generation of leaders.”

“Former President Nelson Mandela said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.’ Today, hundreds of talented African students are making an impact in their fields, thanks to the Mastercard Foundation. But trust me, the impact of their work on society is felt strongly across the country, Africa, and the world as they take on global challenges with innovative solutions that would have been hard to realise without your support,” the Vice-Chancellor added.

Mastercard Foundation Scholars have enriched UP’s academic sphere, contributing as tutors, assistant lecturers, laboratory assistants, and even contributing to research outputs. A few Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programme Alumni are now employed by the University as full-time lecturers. Additionally, 26 Mastercard Foundation Scholars and Programme Alumni received start-up capital from the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Entrepreneurship Fund, which enabled them to launch ventures in diverse sectors like agriculture and renewable energy.

“When embarking on this transformative partnership with UP, our goal was to foster an environment where education transcends social and economic barriers, empowering Mastercard Foundation Scholars to become transformative leaders.  We are very pleased with the results achieved so far,” said Tina Muparadzi, Mastercard Foundation Executive Director for Education and Transitions. “The challenges addressed through this collaboration extend beyond academic pursuits. They embrace the holistic development of individuals, equipping them not only with knowledge, but with the psychological support, skills training, mentorship, transitions, and other support needed to navigate the diverse landscapes of life.”

Tina added that “The Programme’s commitment goes beyond numbers and degrees; it is a charge to nurture a community where every Mastercard Foundation Scholar is seen, heard, and uplifted. By fortifying this partnership, the aim is to sculpt a future where the impact of education echoes not just in classrooms but resonates in the corridors of entrepreneurship, the realms of research and the heart of leadership. Together, we are crafting an ecosystem where barriers yield to opportunities, and each Mastercard Foundation Scholar emerges not only as a graduate but as a torchbearer of transformative leadership, contributing meaningfully to the world around them.”


- Author James Mahlokwane

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