The Canon Collins Trust announces major new scholarship funding to advance social justice causes, saying the power of networking addresses the urgent need to support African thought leadership.
A South Africa based NGO, the Canon Collins Trust, has announced 57 new university scholarships in fields relating to social justice for the 2023 academic year, bringing its total
investment in the country to nearly R300 million since 2004. The scholarships are mostly at postgraduate level.
A spokesperson for the organisation said the scholarships were unique in that they are awarded not only for academic merit but also based on the scholar’s personal vision for justice and willingness to work for change with other scholars across the network.
For example, scholar Andani Tshiitamune, age 27, is carrying out research at the University of Cape Town into producing vaccines that even the poorest countries can afford. She says “the
financial support provided by the scholarship offers a much-needed relief … however, the greatest reward of this scholarship lies beyond financial benefits. The opportunity to be part
of a whole community of like-minded scholar activists and social justice advocates is truly invaluable”. Concerned about how poor health afflicts African countries, Andani is working
on developing a cost-effective universal influenza A vaccine.
The Trust’s CEO, Stuart Craig, said southern Africans are distinguishing themselves in their diverse fields across the globe. “But the most remarkable feature of the programme is that
96% of Canon Collins graduates continue to work in and serve the region by remaining in Africa” he explained. He added that in its forty-year history the Canon Collins Trust has
awarded over 4,000 scholarships to southern Africa’s exiles, activists and leaders.
Based on the belief that Africa’s greatest wealth is its people, the NGO argues that scholars’ ideas, creativity and solutions are the key to a free and open southern Africa, especially for
those from marginalised communities and sub-communities.
While scholars come from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, special consideration is given to those who will be the first in their family to receive a postgraduate degree. Some are
the first in their village to receive a degree, whose attendance at university is funded and supported by their entire community. The Canon Collins Trust says this is a powerful
manifestation of ubuntu, the southern African philosophy of spiritual generosity and human interconnectedness.
“Every year, those of us who participate in the selection process are profoundly impressed (and often deeply moved) by the achievement of candidates in even getting to the stage of
submitting applications. Many applicants come from challenging backgrounds which have not made their progress through schooling and first degrees easy. They are often the first in
their family to have higher education. They are often financially and practically supporting other family members at the same time as pursuing their studies”, said John Richmond, a
supporter of the Trust who coordinates a group of mostly British teachers who together fundraise annually for some of these social justice-oriented scholarships.
But while this investment begins with financing access to postgraduate education, the organisation insists this cannot be where it ends. The vision of an open and just society
requires all these empowered leaders and activists to compound their potential through support and collaboration. “In a world that is increasingly polarised and competitive – in
which energies and bonds are stretched across vast geographical and ideological spaces – the real challenge is to create pathways that keep people connected and allow southern African
change-makers to maintain focus on each other’s common purpose” said the CEO. “The path to transformation and social impact is neither easy nor possible to undertake alone”.
Access to the scholarship is the first step in a programme of network-building between scholars, alumni and social justice organisations. “You will find us scholars arranging Zoom
meetings to support each other. You will find us meeting at our annual conference to inspire each other in our individual work and create opportunities to collaborate and make an impact
together as scholars,” says PhD scholar Athenkosi Nzala (University of Pretoria), age 31, whose research seeks to ensure that everyone has access to an equitable and quality primary
and secondary online education. “As I am being supported by the scholarship to train teachers for online teaching, so the scholarship also bolsters the dreams of many Africans of
all ages who want to pursue formal and informal learning opportunities” he said.
A case in point is former Canon Collins Trust scholarship recipient and now Professor Maano Ramutsindela, who became the University of Cape Town’s first African Dean of Science in
2019. Having also served as a Board member of the Trust he says:
“It is important for me as the Dean of Science to think of how we can transform science and make it more relevant to the social issues the country, region and continent are faced with.
Canon Collins has over the last few years emphasised a sense of urgency for change. I never thought it would come to rest on my shoulders, but as the Dean I am now an agent of
change. I feel that Canon Collins has prepared me with the value system that will guide me in my dreams of what this place could become.”
Notes for Editors:
The Canon Collins Trust’s mission is to build a community of change agents across southern Africa who create and
use knowledge for positive social impact. Through their higher education funding, project grants and international
events programme, they are cultivating a space where activism and research meet.
The Trust began in 1981 as a response to Apartheid-era repression, with scholarships awarded to exiled South
Africans and Namibians with the potential to become leaders in the future. It has evolved into a southern
Africa region-wide programme of support to potentially transformative leaders committed to safeguarding African
interests and people, including advancing the decolonial project in a shared and sustainable way.
The Trust’s spending on scholarships and networking is derived solely from fundraising including grant-making
foundations, private individuals making gifts in memory of loved ones and cause-related crowdfunding.
For further information and photos Catherine Sofianos 072 767 1115 | firstname.lastname@example.org