School of Engineering

 

At the signing of an MOU between Phikiswayo Primary School and Monarkhia Academy were (from left) Phikiswayo’s Deputy Principal, Mrs TO Ngubane, and Principal, Mr TLM Mchunu, with Monarkhia’s Mr Sboniso Zuma and Mr Cebo Mzinyane.

Engineering Alumnus Heads Academy for Underprivileged Youth

Electronic Engineering alumnus, Mr Cebo Mzinyane, is making good progress with a non-profit company he founded to motivate children in underprivileged areas in the Greater Durban area to excel academically, socially, personally and recreationally.

Mzinyane established the Monarkhia Academy in response to poverty he saw hampering young people to achieve their full potential. Anxious for school children to make better progress, he founded the academy with the focus on the areas of Inanda, Ntuzuma and KwaMashu (INK).

Growing up in Ntuzuma, where he completed his schooling, Mzinyane witnessed the poverty and lack of resources children face in their endeavours to realise their dreams, saying that amenities are lacking.

Mzinyane, who enrolled for his BSc at UKZN in 2015, said the programme and the University chose him rather than the reverse after unfamiliarity with tertiary institutions and their programmes almost led him to another institution.

Calling the experience of studying engineering ‘tough yet thrilling,’ Mzinyane said he particularly appreciated the problem-solving aspects of the programme that encouraged creativity and innovation in developing the competence to identify, assess, formulate, and solve engineering problems. This enhanced his passion for tackling some of the country’s major challenges in the form of community development, entrepreneurship, and childhood development.

‘Studying this degree has helped me develop the necessary skills to identify challenges and develop a programme I am confident will help bring solutions,’ said Mzinyane.

A Transnet bursary he received during his third-year resulted in him being employed as an engineer in training at Transnet in Durban after completing his studies.

Mzinyane decided to formalise a programme featuring sports and academic support to provide mentorship and influence after a children’s soccer match in 2019 when he spent some time answering numerous questions about life from youngsters and noticed a mentorship gap in society.

Monarkhia Academy offers soccer, drama, film, and exhibition programmes as well as a social development division to provide mentorship and life skills, with an emphasis on anti-drug and anti-crime ethics and social cohesion.

The Academy’s name is derived from the Greek word for “monarch”.

Recognising that sport and recreation in INK areas are seen as a luxury and not an essential part of schooling, Mzinyane and his team of eight executive and operational officers – many of them UKZN alumni – had to market the concept reminding doubters that sport and recreation can lead not only to career opportunities but also the acquisition of important life skills.

Monarkhia Academy makes use of limited, shared sports facilities while financial security remains a challenge for the team who have been working to source sponsorships to bolster their activities and provide stationery and sports equipment for the Academy’s use. Earlier this year, they led a donation drive for stationery, uniforms and bursaries for children at schools in the INK area.

Mzinyane is keen to get mentorship and guidance for the team and to channel their passion into skilful community engagements and the ability to run workshops and development projects.

The Academy recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Phikiswayo Primary School in Ntuzuma which makes provision for it to facilitate sport and recreation at the school.

They partnered with Mirror World Production Company and hosted a film exhibition in 2022 to help township youth become aware of career possibilities in the film industry, and arranged for a top achiever from a local school to visit UKZN’s Howard College campus to explore engineering study options.

This year they aim to train and appoint voluntary coaches to work with children at schools and take the pressure off teachers in the area of extracurricular offerings, while also identifying academically-gifted children to join peer study groups.

Mzinyane’s hopes to eventually work with all 120 schools identified in the INK area and introduce sport offerings beyond netball and soccer.

Mzinyane aims to soon register as a professional engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa and develop his social entrepreneurship skills.

Monarkhia Academy also wants to work with UKZN and other research institutions to investigate social and economic challenges in townships and assist primary school pupils in a variety of spheres.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Supplied