To address the need for scarce skills, the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Public Works awards bursaries to help young people further their studies and realise their dreams.
Young female architect Nandipha Makhanye (26) from Sobantu in Pietermaritzburg, who recently graduated from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, is a product of the Department of Public Works' Bursary and Internship Programme. She now works for KZN Public Works. Her main duties include the design of building plans for the department. Before constructing a building, an architect needs to drwa a plan of the building. Sometimes architects will make a cardboard or plastic model of the building. "The bulding is then builtt by a construction company which follows the directions of the plans of the building," said Makhanye.
The KZN Department of Public Works' Bursary and Internship Programme gives deserving students an opportunity to study Architecture, Engineering (mechanical, electrical, civil and structural), Property Management and Construction Management as well as Quantity Surveying.
Makhanye told Vuk’uzenzele that even though she had academic colours in high school she didn’t get a bursary for her first year.
“My mother funded my studies for the first two-and-a-half years and with the realisation that my sister was soon to join me in tertiary education, it became clear that my mother would need some sort of financial support. There were just two students that I knew who were on the bursary from the Department of Public Works. Everyone else seemed to be financially stable or at least comfortable with paying the tuition fees,” said Makhanye.
She did research about the bursary and eventually applied.
“I was told that it wasn't the correct time to apply but because I was desperate, I applied anyway. My clean academic record made it easy for me to be accepted. It assured the department that I was determined to succeed and awarding me with the bursary would not be a waste. Both my mother and I felt lucky I had been awarded the bursary,” she said.
She studied for five years (three years for a Bachelor of Architectural Studies degree and two years for a Master’s) while working for various architectural firms.
“It hasn’t been smooth sailing entering a male-dominated field. There have been plenty of challenges, not for just being a woman, but for being a young black woman. Being on site has been the most challenging, especially when I have to give instructions to men who are much older than me. But I do not allow the daily challenges to bring me down as I constantly remind myself that I am doing architecture because I am passionate about it and it is something I love, therefore small challenges will only make me stronger,” she said.
Makhanye said she is grateful to the KZN Department of Public Works for giving her the opportunity to realise her dreams.
“I doubt I would have had the
financial muscle to continue with my studies. The internship and bursary both helped me escape years of debt that I would have accumulated trying to do what I love and for that I will always be eternally grateful to the department,” she said.
Makhanye’s advice to the youth is to work hard and follow your passion. “Nothing comes easy. You need to be prepared to work for it,” she said.