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2023-06-21 6:37 AM

From Struggles to Success: How Kagiso Komane’s Journey is Inspiring a New Generation of Chemists

  • Kagiso Komane, a 29-year-old Chemistry Masters graduate, overcame academic setbacks to become a beacon of hope for young professionals in the water and sanitation sector. With the support of a bursary from the Department of Water and Sanitation, he was able to pursue his studies and contribute to addressing water challenges in South Africa.
  • Komane's commitment to his studies and passion for chemistry led him to become a mentor to university students, offering free tutoring in his spare time. He is currently part of a four-year internship programme within the Department, assessing water quality and working on solutions to address the Hartebeesport Dam hyacinth issue.
  • The Department of Water and Sanitation's Learning Academy, established in 2007, sponsors study bursaries in science and engineering disciplines to address specific scarce and technical skills gaps in the sector. Through the Academy, students who previously benefited from the bursary programme are provided with employment contracts, gaining relevant workplace exposure and additional training until they are ready to register as professionals with their relevant professional bodies.
By Martin du Toit

In the face of adversity, Kagiso Komane, a 29-year-old Chemistry Masters graduate, has emerged as a beacon of hope for young professionals aspiring to join the water and sanitation sector. A former bursary holder from the Department of Water and Sanitation, Komane is committed to devising sustainable solutions to water challenges in South Africa.

Hailing from Kgobokwane, a small town outside Dennilton in Limpopo, Komane’s journey to success was not without its hurdles. Despite initial academic setbacks, he persevered, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to his studies and a passion for chemistry.

“I never considered myself to be smarter than anyone I studied with,” Komane confessed. “My matric results came with poor grades in Mathematics and Science, which I felt would hinder me from pursuing a career in a science-related field.”

Undeterred by his initial academic performance, Komane dedicated two years to improving his grades, enabling him to enrol for a National Diploma in Analytical Chemistry at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in 2014. His hard work paid off when he was awarded a bursary by the Department of Water and Sanitation, which funded his B-Tech degree and Masters.

The bursary, which covered full tuition fees, accommodation, food, books, stationery, and a monthly stipend, was instrumental in Komane’s academic journey. “This remains the biggest milestone in my life, which I never would have achieved without the amazing and unconditional support from the Department,” he said.

Komane’s commitment to his studies and his passion for chemistry did not go unnoticed. He has since become a mentor to university students, offering free tutoring for chemistry classes during his spare time.

Currently, Komane is part of a four-year internship programme within the Department, where he assesses water quality as part of the Blue and Green Drop Certification Programme. This programme evaluates the quality of drinking water and the treatment of wastewater. He is also part of a team working on solutions to address the Hartebeesport Dam hyacinth issue.

Despite the challenges and misconceptions associated with being a scientist, Komane remains enthusiastic about his work. “There is absolutely nothing that I dislike about my job,” he said, adding that his ultimate goal is to inspire confidence in the next generation. “My desire is to see black children boldly take on opportunities in the chemistry field and grab whatever opportunity comes their way to reach for their dreams,” he expressed.

The Department of Water and Sanitation established a Learning Academy in 2007 to address specific scarce and technical skills gaps in the sector by sponsoring study bursaries in science and engineering disciplines. The awarding of bursaries is done collaboratively with all universities in the country, ensuring that all bursars have the opportunities to successfully complete their studies.

Through the Learning Academy, students who previously benefited from the bursary programme are provided with employment contracts, gaining relevant workplace exposure and additional training until they are ready to register as professionals with their relevant professional bodies.

Susan Andrews, the Academy’s programme coordinator, believes that the best is yet to come for Komane. “His commitment to uplifting those who come after him is something other young water professionals should aspire to. His work ethic is out of this world. He is a grounded young man who is going to break through many barriers in the future,” she said.

Komane’s story serves as an inspiration to all, demonstrating that with hard work, determination, and the right support, one can overcome any obstacle and achieve their dreams. His journey is a testament to the power of education and theimportance of providing financial support to students in need. It is a reminder that investing in our youth is investing in the future of our country.

As we continue to face water challenges in South Africa, it is encouraging to see young professionals like Komane stepping up to the plate, ready to contribute their knowledge and skills to find lasting solutions. His story is not just about personal triumph; it is about the potential of our youth to drive change and make a difference in our society.

In the face of adversity, Komane has shown that it is possible to rise above the odds and succeed. His story is a beacon of hope for young professionals and students who may be facing similar challenges. It is a testament to the power of perseverance, hard work, and the transformative power of education.

As we look to the future, we can be confident that with young professionals like Komane at the helm, we are well on our way to addressing the water challenges in our country. His story is a reminder that with the right support and opportunities, our youth can achieve great things and contribute significantly to our society.

In conclusion, Komane’s journey is a powerful reminder of the importance of providing financial support to students in need. His success story serves as an inspiration to all, demonstrating that with hard work, determination, and the right support, one can overcome any obstacle and achieve their dreams. His journey is a testament to the power of education and the importance of investing in our youth. It is a reminder that investing in our youth is investing in the future of our country.

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Martin du Toit