Hard work pays off for Alex girl

Dineo Mashamaite's hard work pays off as she is awarded a bursary to study in a top private school.


The school journey of Alexandra’s Dineo Mashamaite, 16, has been an inspirational one – from attending a Saturday School to being awarded a bursary to attend one of the top private schools in Johannesburg.

Mashamaite’s journey has been marked by nothing else but hard work in which she was one of the students who worked her way up from Ikusasa Lethu Saturday School [our future] to finally being awarded the bursary.

Mashamaite grew up in one of the country’s poorest townships, Alexandra, where she was raised by her single mother with significant financial constraints.

After struggling with limited resources at her local high school, Mashamaite went in search of opportunities in her grade 10 year – and enrolled in the Ikusasa Lethu programme.

After one year in the programme, with marked improvement and excellent academic results, Mashamaite was awarded a St Mary’s Foundation Scholarship. It was the Ikusasa Lethu programme that set in motion the course of events that were to change her life.

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Established by St Mary’s School, Waverley in 1990 and funded by the St Mary’s Foundation, the programme supports underprivileged pupils with mentorship and tuition to supplement limited resources at high schools around Johannesburg.

The programme not only provides a short-term need – giving students the chance to better their academics – but invests long-term in students by providing the facilities and guidance to help them apply for tertiary education.

For worthy and talented students like Mashamaite, it’s a chance at a bright future and the results of the programme speak volumes.

In 2016, the 91 programme participants achieved a 99 per cent pass rate, with 65 per cent of the students obtaining a ‘Bachelor’s Pass’, meaning they can study towards a Bachelor’s Degree at university.

Every Saturday morning, 275 eager high school learners are bussed from Alexandra and surrounding areas to study sessions held at St Mary’s Waverley, and one of those pupils was Mashamaite.

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Through the programme, students like Mashamaite receive extra lessons in mathematics, physical sciences, life sciences, English, business studies, accounting, geography and computer skills. The classes are taught by a dedicated team of teachers from St Mary’s Waverley and surrounding schools.

Mashamaite was one of the top pupils in the Ikusasa Lethu programme in 2016. At her previous school, she witnessed so many of her peers dropping out of school for various reasons, from financial difficulties to increasing family demands and responsibilities.

“Through the power of programmes like Ikusasa Lethu and being given the opportunity to study at St Mary’s, I learnt I didn’t have to follow the same path and I could overcome the barriers of poverty,” she said.

Mashamaite is excited about her future and grateful for the chance to receive a world-class education. She hopes to use the opportunity to impact the lives of other young girls in underprivileged communities – and one day dreams of building her family a new home.

She describes the education at St Mary’s as a door opened to endless possibilities. “I receive more attention from my teachers and everything is practical.

“We work with scientific equipment and perform experiments in life sciences and physical sciences classes – something I simply didn’t have access to before.”

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Within the first two months at St Mary’s, Mashamaite has already achieved the highest mathematics test mark in her class. She’s exposed to a range of activities and looks forward to joining the netball team.

“I’m going to work as hard as possible to make my mother and grandmother proud,” she said.

Details: www.stmaryschool.co.za/foundation

Send your messages of support to Dineo Mashamaite’s phenomenal achievement. Tweet @AlexNewsZA to share your messages.

Sipho Siso

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