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From drop-out to academic

By Mkhululi Ndamase | Sep 14, 2012 | COMMENTS [ 24 ]

"While growing up I had more challenges than victories, but the victories are more sweet."

These are the words of Andile Mkonto, 22, of the impoverished Soweto-on-Sea who will be jetting off to the UK next week to study international business administration at London's Hult International Business School.

Mkonto, who co-owns Get Active Construction and Projects, which recently received a tender to build 150 houses in Witbank, was forced to drop out of school at the age of 13.

"I went to Johannesburg to stay with my mother, a domestic worker, but she fell sick. I had to drop out of school so that I could take care of her.

"After raising enough money to take a train [to Port Elizabeth, and] after my mother died, I ... had to repeat Grade 6.

"I bunked school for the whole term - I just got off track," the eldest of three orphans said.

Then, in about 2004-05, along came the Ubuntu Education Trust Fund, which offered him counselling.

"I had some psychological issues. The counselling really helped me, and things have been looking up since then.

"I am under no illusions that I would be where I am had I not met Ubuntu," Mkonto said.

In 2009, Ubuntu sent him to the African Leadership Academy where he matriculated.

"I am one of the fortunate ones that had opportunities opened for them. This is a huge opportunity for me. Not everyone from where I am goes to school.

"Without the support from my community and my granny I would not have made it. I am proud of my achievements and where I am from," Mkonto said.

He will be doing a four-year course -- two years in London and another two in Shanghai, Dubai or any of two campuses in the United States.

"I have never been outside the continent and it is scary, but I like challenges. I am looking forward to going there, meeting new people, making new friends and making money," he laughed.

"My granny is very proud of me, but scared at the same time, because she feels like she will not be there for me as much."

Ubuntu Education Trust Fund co-founder Banks Gwaxula said the programme had produced 14 graduates like Mkonto.

"I am very proud of Andile and the others that graduated through the programme," Gwaxula said.

"We are still keeping our promise that we would focus on education and health."

Mkonto had some advice for others who are in the same situation as he was.

"It is hard, when no one believes in you, to believe in yourself.

"Your family will always be there for you. Believe in yourself and go out there and grab any opportunity that comes your way," Mkonto said.


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After a rough week, its good to read a story like this. Much respect to the Ubuntu edu trust fund. But most respect to Mkonto. Enjoy your 4 years overseas dude.

Sep 14, 2012 7:15 | 0 replies

BIG UPS TO U ANDILE. I wish majority of SA youth e ka be e na le your thinking of phambilizing EDUCATION mara it looks like SA is doomed.

Sep 14, 2012 9:39 | 0 replies

good staff and that is very good and very insprational.

Sep 14, 2012 12:32 | 0 replies

Its really inspirational- Kudos!

Sep 14, 2012 1:56 | 0 replies

Stay-away from booze & girls mfana after u finished then maybe but neva mix them with studies its gonna be hard.But hardwork kills no one!!

Sep 14, 2012 2:7 | 0 replies

Insipirational indeed

Sep 14, 2012 2:59 | 0 replies


After a rough week, its good to read a story like this. Much respect to the Ubuntu edu trust fund. But most respect to Mkonto. Enjoy your 4 years overseas dude.

Much respect indeed to Ubuntu Education Trust Fund, these programs really are invaluable.

There is another brilliant programme running in Soweto and Alex called the Gifted Child Programme (GCP) that changed lives of many successful people. Sadly its founder Tom Baloyi recently passed away without the nation even taking note. These are true national heroes, people who build and make this world a better place.

Unfortunately programme like these do not get enough financial support and end up closing shop. Salute to all those who give up so much so the nation could be given hope.

Sep 14, 2012 3:5 | 0 replies

This is the type of story we want on monday morning, to encourage Leaners and give us hope, why only bring this on Friday, the weekend is going Zing,zing, zing in our heads already and we dont care about news. we want thistype on mondays

Sep 14, 2012 3:19 | 0 replies

that is an inspirational story

Sep 15, 2012 12:1 | 0 replies

Uyi ngwenya!!

Sep 17, 2012 8:20 | 0 replies

A word of advice to him is he should not num-num banyana ba daar. A tlogele nyaope. Nyaope + di-cherry (gals) = failure...

Sep 17, 2012 12:29 | 0 replies