Change the world


Since an article on Jean Greyling’s mission to provide bursaries for bright young minds was published in DM168’s holiday edition, he has already managed to link some readers with students who need help.


The Jobsons of East Coast Sales tell Culumanco Komanisi they will be sponsoring his studies for BSc computer science at Nelson Mandela University. (Photo: Supplied)

By Estelle Ellis

Nelson Mandela University computer science professor Jean Greyling has stepped up his mission to find bursaries for promising university students and high school pupils, but he says just a little emotional support can go a long way, too. As the academic year begins, he is continuing his quest to make sure that the brightest minds reach their potential.

Greyling says he has also started to realise the importance of emotional support for high school pupils.

Since an article on his mission was published in DM168’s holiday edition, Greyling has already managed to link some readers with students who need help.

“But I have realised more and more that even if people can only offer emotional support to pupils, that can also make a huge difference. Just a phone call a week can change a young person’s life.”

In the past week, three Western Cape businesspeople offered to sponsor another of his students, contributing enough for the second-year student to buy a car.

David Brown from Amazon poses with the pupils he sponsors. From left: Shaun Johansson, Rayhanah Walters and Norman Msaka. (Photo: Supplied)

Greyling teaches computer science to BCom and BSc students.

“This is a good academic qualification to get,” he said. “At the moment we have around a 90% employment rate.”

But getting students to graduation is often more than just a money issue. Greyling said there was huge value in making sure pupils with potential attend a good high school so that they are not behind when they come to university. He is also looking for sponsorships for tutors in English and mathematics for rural schools.

“One of our first high school bursary recipients just finished matric at Alexander High School in Gqeberha and he has received a bursary for his tertiary studies that will continue to help him through university,” Grey­ling said.

“He is from Zwide, like Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, so we call him our Siya, but his name is Culumanco Komanisi.”

He said that in December the owners of East Coast Sales, Nigel and Fawn Jobson, offered Komanisi a R110,000 bursary for three years, including his accommodation and other costs.

“We are still waiting for his matric results, but he wasn’t living in the best of places so we have already moved him to his student accommodation.” 

He said that after the article appeared in DM168, another reader paid for a young artisan to get his electrician certificate through the Kusaidiana Trust. 

“For a cash contribution of around R7,000 you can make a huge difference by helping an artisan obtain his official trade certificate,” he said.

First-year student Derrick Love (left) received the Mabinya Mentorship bursary in 2023, sponsored by Baxter (right) and Elize Mabinya. They will now guide and mentor him over three years, in addition to an annual monetary contribution from their personal funds. (Photo: Supplied)

Greyling said he was keen to build up ways other than money to support pupils who dream of studying computer science.

“A few years ago we had an event at a school in Diepsloot, Johannesburg. A Grade 11 pupil came to me to tell me of his dream to follow a career in computer science. But his marks were bad.

“Just through a few phone calls over the year and some encouragement, we managed to help him increase his marks by 20%.

“I think a little emotional investment with learners can also be a good way to help. We literally just phoned him every week or two to ask how he was doing and to encourage him.”

He added: “There is an enormous need for bursaries out there. We are inundated with requests for bursaries.”

For readers who can help, it might be useful to look at aiding parents who want to move their children to better schools, especially for high school. A small contribution can go a long way.

Greyling said 17 Grade 7 pupils who have enormous potential had been identified in rural schools in the Eastern Cape. They will be supported with extra tutoring in mathematics and English.

“I think it is also important to realise that many of these students who have enormous potential need more than just financial aid. We also have their eyes tested. We make sure they have textbooks and we provide life coaching. We make sure that they have food,” he said.

Zuhayr Knot from Cape Town (left) played the Rangers coding game in maths tutoring classes presented by George Chirume (right). This convinced him to study BSc computer science at the University of Cape Town. In this photo from May 2022, they celebrate after three Stellenbosch businesspersons offered to pay for his tuition. (Photo: Supplied)

Greyling also drives the Tanks, Rangers and Boats coding programme through Tangible Africa. Without computers, children can learn how to code with the help of cardboard puzzles.

He is taking his mission up a few notches, and his students and business associates are joining him in droves.

Through the programme, he has identified another five super-bright students and he is looking for bursaries for them. 

This article appeared in the Daily Maverick on 22 January.

Contact information
Mrs Debbie Derry
Deputy Director: Communication
Tel: 041 504 3057