Frustrated by a lack of opportunities and the widening inequality gap, some bright thinking from our team in South Africa made a life changing difference for a Computer Sciences student at the Pearson Institute of Higher Education in Johannesburg. Klee Barris, Marketing Lead for Iress in South Africa, and Lisa Ngwenya share their story.

“Equal access to education continues to be an issue in South Africa,” explains Klee. “It’s an endemic problem where a lack of opportunity leads to a widening of the inequality gap and perpetuates the poverty cycle.”

“We know we can’t resolve or remove all of the socio-economic inequalities that exist but we wanted to do something. We took the decision to redirect a portion of the marketing budget originally allocated for promotional gifting to support a student at the Pearson Institute.”

The Pearson Institute was delighted with our offer and, following a selection process, Lisa was chosen as the most suitable candidate to benefit from our support.

Breaking the poverty cycle

Lisa, who grew up with her family in Hillbrow, Johannesburg says the support Iress has provided is ‘life changing’.

“It means I can break the poverty cycle at home,” she tells us. “I’m the first person in my family who’s had the chance to attend university and it means I have the ability to make choices about my future. A degree doesn't guarantee a successful life but it does give me options that otherwise wouldn’t have existed for me.”

Lisa’s interest in computers has always been there but she never thought it would turn into a potential career.

The rise of technology

“I was fascinated by computers when I was growing up but when it came to thinking about work, I saw myself doing something medical related,” Lisa says. “But I had a conversation with my uncle, who is an IT specialist, and he made me realise how computers were taking over the world.”

Computer science to me now is more than just solving problems and creating software. It's about trying to improve communities and help people in society work better and more efficiently. I am so excited to be part of that.

Lisa Ngwenya
Second year student, Pearson Institute of Higher Education, South Africa

Lisa has thrived at the Pearson Institute. She says: “The work is really challenging but we get fantastic support and the campus has outstanding facilities. I live in the school's residence, which has been a wonderful experience and has enabled me to meet new people and make loads of great friends. Living away from home has also taught me how to be independent and manage my time.”

A world awaits

Lisa will graduate from her Computer Sciences course at the end of 2021 and her mind is already turning to her next steps.

“I would like to either carry on learning and study towards an Honours Degree or find a role as a Data Scientist or Analyst - I know Iress has a great graduate program,” she explains. “However, before I go into the world of work, travelling wouldn’t be a bad idea either!”

Klee, who facilitates this initiative, says: “Similar to our work with the Iress Foundation in supporting the Healing Word Creche through Seeds of Africa, iSchoolAfrica and Pebbles, it’s fantastic to know we’re making a difference with Lisa as well as supporting the next generation of tech leaders.”