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Change the world


After a long and difficult road, Siyabonga Sirayi, associate lecturer in Business Management at Mandela University, managed to obtain his MCom degree in business management, cum laude, at the University’s Summer Graduation - a dream come true since his undergraduate days. And he is already working on ideas for his PhD.


“From the start of my studies, I told myself to be the master of my destination, Siyabonga says, who hails from a rural area, called Gxwalibomvu, near Mthatha, where he matriculated at Lutubeni High School in 2012.

Transferring and simplifying information in a manner that people can understand and use to make informed decisions, has always been his dream job, which he realised when he discovered his passion for lecturing.

This was already during his Diploma and BTech in Management Practice, when he started tutoring and training at workshops.

Growing up in the  rural areas, there was limited access to information, careers, and the internet and the schooling system was not up to standard. Also, Siyabonga only touched a computer for the first time in his first year at university and consequently failed his computer course that year. 

He always wanted to be the first university graduate in his family and went to the public library, spoke to previous matriculants, who were studying and then applied to Mandela University as well as Fort Hare and Walter Sisulu universities. He ended up on the reserve list for Diploma in Management at Mandela University as the other universities’ courses were full. .

Then his struggle continued with registration money as he did not know about NSFAS and available bursaries. He approached his Business Studies teacher at school who raised the registration and transport money to get to Mandela University.

“I remember when I got Port Elizabeth in January 2013, I knew no one and slept at the Total garage for three days, because he had nowhere to stay, but my determination and resilience kept me motivated”, he said.

Siyabonga advises students to always remember what brought them to university in the first place. Recalling your dream daily, serves as a fundamental life principle that keeps one’s dream alive. Your background and bad experiences should be your best motivator.

As a graduate, you have the responsibility to not only get a job, but to create employment for other people who were not fortunate to come to university or higher education due to various life circumstances, he says.

If someone else has done it before, you can also do it regardless how long it takes, he says.

His master’s dissertation identified strategies that can be used to promote the skills development of technicians for the automotive retail industry through a multi-stakeholder approach. involving the government, industry, and training institutions. This is essential for the success of skills development programmes in the industry.

The automotive retail industry in South Africa is a significant contributor to the country's economy and limited research has been done in this regard. There is a shortage of skilled technicians, which threatens the industry's progress.

His findings included reasons as being the lack of funding for skills development programmes, inadequate training facilities, and an outdated curriculum. This could be assisted with government help and industry partnerships. His supervisors were Dr Vusumzi Msuthwana and Prof Noxolo Mazibuko.

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160