In a joint venture bursary programme between the Gauteng Institute for Architecture (GIFA) and Marley Building Systems, six deserving architectural students from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) have been awarded bursaries to the value of R150 000.
The bursary programme is a first in the history of GIFA. Kumarsen Thamburan, President of GIFA, said he hopes the bursary programme can be sustained by the institute and continue beyond his presidency for many years to come.
The seed for this initiative was planted towards the end of last year with the latest in the ‘Fees must Fall’ protests. Kumarsen said these events were a real eye opener and made the institute realise that something had to be done in terms of upliftment and awareness.
“There are far too many deserving students out there who are very capable of succeeding in their academic careers, but are restricted by financial need,” he said.
Marley Building Systems confirmed their participation soon after being approached by GIFA. The company, a South African subsidiary of Belgian industrial group, Etex, sponsored R100 000 of the total bursary money.
Sean Singh, Marketing and Business Development Manager for Marley Building Systems, said one of the core values of Etex is to ‘Connect and Care’ – developing people and building meaningful relationships and networks.
“We live out this value by connecting and working together with communities in which we have a presence, and that means playing an active role and taking an interest in issues that affect this industry.”
According to Sean: “Our partnership with GIFA ensures that we (Marley Building Systems) contribute to the building of a sustainable architectural society in South Africa by enabling and supporting these brilliant young minds to reach their dream of becoming professional architects.”
Six architectural students were awarded bursaries at a hand-over ceremony at GIFA in Johannesburg on Thursday, 11 May. Three students from UJ and three students from Wits were the proud recipients of the bursaries.
GIFA waited for the opening of the universities this year before formally sending out their proposal. The candidate shortlist was compiled by the respective universities and presented to GIFA based on the strict selection criteria of academic performance and financial need. The students also had to be either in their final undergraduate year or busy with their post graduate degree (M.Arch.), as a final step before gaining their industry experience and registering as professional architects.
Thumarsen said GIFA had requested the bursary recipients to have some level of involvement in the Student Committee that will operate under the control of the institution’s Education Committee. He believes this will be an important link that will help create closer ties between GIFA and the universities.
GIFA is close to finalising its Student Committee and the Transformation, Inclusion and Normalisation (TIN) Committee. “I think that the relevance of both these committees is going to pave the way forward in bringing about the necessary inclusivity of the institute,” Kumarsen continued. “This is not merely transformation, but rather a holistic approach and opportunity to correct the disparities of the past.”
According to Kumarsen, GIFA is committed to elevating the profession through transformation, collaboration and advocacy. “The TIN committee will go a long way in bringing about a more cohesive and integrated profession which will ensure the sustainability of our fellow architects within the built environment,” he said.