Studietrust was started on 13 June 1974 through the initiative of Andries Kruger and Jan Hofmeyr, with co- workers from Soweto and Johannesburg. The South Africa of 1974 was a different place, but our focus had remained the young person with the potential for higher and further education, but without the opportunity. Faith in the power of possibility enabled people to come together in spite of the divisions of the past.
Of the total number of South African black learners in 1974 only 6% were in high schools and a mere 0.19% in matric. That was the motivating factor. Following the 16 June 1976 youth uprisings there was a sudden increase in applications for bursaries. Studietrust had become a source of hope.
During our 30th birthday celebrations in 2004 it became clear that the period of the founders was drawing to a close. The foundations were well laid. They were solid enough to allow for several floors to be added. This is a crisis time for most organisations. The founders are usually inspired by a single vision that allows them to overcome all obstacles. They built something extra-ordinary. The challenge to the second generation is to remain extra-ordinary, and yet introduce very ordinary measures to allow the organisation to make use of the many opportunities that are now beckoning as a result of the reputation built by the founders.
In 2008 Dr Murray Hofmeyr, previously lecturer in Theology and Philosophy at the University of Venda, was appointed as new national director. After 5 years at the helm he can look back on a period of substantial growth and building the necessary capacity to rise to the new challenges.
In the first year of its existence Studietrust gave bursaries to 75 applicants. In 2011 the figure was 889 bursaries. A milestone was when we became a first tier NGO partner of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. This enabled us to administer loans to needy students to supplement our partial bursaries – 131 study loans in 2011. In 2011 the total amount administered in the form of bursaries (R28 948 220) and NSFAS loans (R4 472 048) was R33 420 268. In 2012 this amount will come close to R45 million.
The success rate of our students over the last 10 years until 2011 was still around 90% in spite of two consecutive years of only 84% of students successfully completed their respective academic years (2009 and 2010). In 2011 the success rate increased again to 89%. We ascribe our success to two factors.
· Selection. Over the years a selection system was developed that allows us to select not only the straight A students, but also those with potential who have not had the opportunity to shine due to any number of mostly poverty-related reasons.
· Mentoring and support. A Studietrust bursary beneficiary becomes a member of a fellowship of donors, administrators and students. At a very vulnerable time in their life’s journey, with the chaos of poverty threatening their identity, we offer them attention, the sense of belonging to a community and coping skills.