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Thando Sibongiseni Gumede, a final year Law student at Wits, is not only an Allan Gray Scholarship recipient and a Brightest Young Minds (BYM) awardee, but is also an advocate for the education of black girl children and substantive equality. A self-proclaimed feminist, she remains highly competitive in a male dominated industry.
You are studying Law but also have a keen interest in entrepreneurial activities, why?
Where the world is going is something I like to call cross-educational pollination. It means that gone are the days where law students go to law school to become a lawyer. So now, faculties will be teaching skills, skills that can go anywhere and in any way they want to.
Entrepreneurship is a mind-set where you identify inefficiencies and then solve those problems. So when you have cross-educational pollination, then someone who’s an engineer has got the hopes of becoming the president, not just a politics student.
You were chosen as one of the ‘Brightest Young Minds’. What exactly does that mean and how do you feel to be chosen as one?
It’s about collecting the brightest young minds on the African continent, 100 people all over Africa came together through a selection process. It wasn’t about marks, it was really just about people who presented ideas and presented themselves in a genuine way. All I can say is wow! The event was a great networking opportunity.
What are you currently working on?
There are basically two things I’m working on, it’s a new technology for sanitary pads and the other is a tech company. I’ve written a research paper on that [the former], it was about the right to basic education for black girl children in rural South Africa; one of the hindrances of going to school is [a girls] menstruation, so their biological disposition.
The postulation I make is that I say to the state, it has a constitutional obligation to balance the scales for both boys and girls.
You say you are an advocate for education and particularly substantive education, what does that mean?
Government needs to provide proper sanitation in schools, pads and panties to girls, particularly to girls in that community, either through social grants or making those things freely available to them.
That is called substantive equality. It’s better than formal equality, substantive equality asks why? At the starting line you need to remove all the rocks and boulders that are on the race track for girls to be able to manoeuvre themselves freely and equally.
Two scholarships are being offered by the Arts and Culture Trust (ACT) for individuals who want to study the arts.
The scholarships are being offered to youth wanting to study any undergraduate course in the performing arts sector. “We saw there was a real need for this type of scholarship,” says Nomalanga Nkosi, programmes manger at ACT.
“ACT has worked in the arts industry for many years, so we’ve identified a need for professionals in this sector. There are many scholarships for science and maths-related courses, and there aren’t too many for arts courses specifically.”
Those who want to apply for the scholarship need to register and audition to demonstrate their abilities in acting, singing and dancing. Nkosi says the audition process is a learning opportunity.
“You get to experience first-hand what it’s like to be in the industry. You start to think about being a performer.”
Steven Norman, who won a scholarship in 2009, says he did a singing, acting and dancing piece, which he choreographed with the help of a friend.
He says the scholarship has motivated him. “I have the opportunity, and I don’t have to worry about financial aid. It’s helped me realise the passion I have for theatre, so it’s been a good influence.”
The second winner, Zola Myeza, a student at the University of Cape Town, has similar views and says the scholarship has helped her plan her future.
“I know what I want in life. I would want to do my honours, and if I could, I would start my own agency and recruit performers.”
The scholarship is being offered to non-professionals between the ages of 18 and 25. Ian Gertenbach, a 1st year student, says the scholarship is a “marvellous” idea. “Scholarships inspire people to work harder and better at what they do.”
The drama student says he would have applied for the scholarship, adding that arts degrees are “pricey, as they’re specialised degrees”.
The closing date for registrations is May 31 and it is open to individuals who are not registered for an undergraduate degree at the time. For more information visit the ACT website at www.act.org.za