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Mary Hatwood Futrell Scholarship Fund makes a difference for African students from disadvantaged backgrounds

Five recipients of the Education International scholarship fund in honour of Mary Hatwood Futrell, founding President of EI (1993 - 2004), write about their opportunities and plans after receiving their advanced degrees in education.

More than a decade ago, Mary and EI established the scholarship fund to help students undertaking education studies at Masters level. Beneficiaries are committed to contributing to the quality of education in their own countries and/or at international level. The programme has been organised in cooperation with the Wits School of Education of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. 
 
The most recent beneficiaries of the scholarship shared their thoughts about their future plans and the opportunities provided by the programme. A few of their reactions follow:
 
Pheello Vincent Makhele
 
A graduate of Rhodes University with a degree in mathematics, Makhele worked in several jobs after completion of his first degree. In the course of his work, he was exposed to “instructional design”. The purpose of his further studies was to develop skills and understanding to become a competent instructional designer. 
 
According to Makhele, “Without Educational International financial assistance, this would not have been possible. The funding has been utilized for registration, tuition fees, and accommodation. Moreover, without this financial assistance, my online learning experience as a result of the current pandemic (SARS-CoV-2) would have been severely impacted because the costs of data are too excessive in South Africa. I have been able to continuously work online, at least partly due to Educational International financial assistance.” 
 
Moosa Khumalo
 
Khumalo plans to continue his studies and obtain a PhD, focusing on curriculum, in particular for the history of South Africa. He hopes to participate in the revision of the history curriculum. 
 
Khumalo said, “There are no words that I may find to express how grateful I am for the bursary, because by having funding and knowing that your fees are settled and you have accommodation, you have a conducive environment to work and study in; having this  bursary also helped keep my mental health stable, my mental health during the first three years was not healthy because I always had anxiety of whether I will be able to graduate even if I do well academically.” 
 
Sinethemba Hleza
 
Hleza is specialising in early childhood education. Pursuing the advanced degree was to deepen knowledge and experience in that field. 
 
According to Hleza, “The Educational International bursary, by funding me, ensured that all my fees are covered for this year and this was helpful because it ensured that I am able to graduate for this degree without having outstanding fees. I am deeply appreciative to have been a recipient for this bursary because not only has it assisted me financially, but it has also lifted a burden and stress from my family.”
 
Pitjeng Matlaba
 
Matlaba was able to research and gain knowledge and ideas to help understand the major challenges of the South African education system.  These challenges are broad and include, “teaching and learning, language and communication and pedagogy.”
 
Concerning the EI assistance, Matlaba said, “Truly words cannot express the opportunity offered to me by the EI bursary to study Master of Education by Coursework and Research Report. Thank you so much for affording me this opportunity to be taught by one of the best Doctors and Professors and being supervised by experts in the field of mathematics education at Wits university.”
 
Timeyo Kanyinji
 
As a high school science teacher in Malawi, Kanyinji observed that many science teachers were not able to take advantage of information and communications technology (ICT). Advanced studies enabled Kanyinji to advance competencies in science education and gain valuable research skills. 
 
Kanyinji wrote that EI assistance has “made my dream to come to reality by reducing my financial burden, which allows me to move on with my academic journey and not worry so much about how I am going to pay for my university fees. Your generosity has inspired me to help others and give back to the community. I hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as you have helped me.”