Established in 1974, StudyTrust is a national bursary organisation that has its roots in the moral and personal support of its bursary holders. Central to its founding is the conviction that potential is equally distributed in the population and that making opportunities and support available to all is the key to unlocking it.
Guided by the goal of creating equal opportunity in education, StudyTrust, in partnership with other organisations, has conducted extensive research into why students from disadvantaged communities, despite exceptional school results, still struggle at university. What they found was that self-confidence and a healthy sense of self-worth are fundamental prerequisites for academic and career success. Dr Murray Hofmeyr, National Director says:
“In South Africa we currently have a whole generation of young people simply brimming with potential and eagerness, but still very vulnerable to the chaos that poverty brings.”
It is this shared belief, ‘that talent and potential is everywhere, but constrained by historical and social factors’, that led StudyTrust to partner with Free To Grow in 2013.
Since then Free To Grow has presented its 4-day Thrive! programme to help bursary holders discover their self-worth and channel their determination. Adapted to suit the context of student life, this programme is presented on an ongoing basis at the Trust’s annual winter seminar where it continues to receive the highest ratings from students.
Between 2020 and 2022 training happened virtually. All are therefore looking forward to experiencing this dynamic programme face-to-face this year when five workshops will be run to accommodate the increasing student numbers.
“We also see the positive long-term impact of the experience”, says Dr Hofmeyr, explaining that their senior students who serve as mentors often make use of what they’ve learnt at these workshops to help and care for the first-year students entrusted to them.
When asked what sets Free To Grow apart from other service providers, Dr Hofmeyr shares that like the Trust, Free To Grow has its origins in the South African context.
“They believe in the worth of every person, and therefore the future, and it is through attending Thrive! that many are able to take a crucial first step in the restoration of self-worth.”
When it comes to training, StudyTrust lauds Free To Grow on the quality of their facilitators. “Free To Grow selects their facilitators with great care and takes quality very seriously.” He says. Being a Non-Profit Organisation, StudyTrust wanted a partner that is competitive from a financial point of view and according to Dr Hofmeyr, “Free To Grow always ensures that their programmes are affordable.”
“Based on our extremely positive experience and our shared values and beliefs, we wholeheartedly recommend Free To Grow,” says the National Director in closing.