The Mergon Ontwikkelings Inisiatief (MOI), established early 2020 by Mergon founder Francois van Niekerk, is a comprehensive bursary fund for high school scholars in the Western Cape. MOI gives full support to selected scholars with exceptional academic and leadership potential, strong Christian values and good character, to complete their high school career without financial or other constraints.
Says Francois: ‘In reaction to God’s consistently open hand towards me, I believe in upholding a balance between what I personally need, and what God would like me to do with the abundance of His provision. Several circumstances at the beginning of 2020 led me to give effect to this call. But how to best set up an effective and sustainable initiative?
‘Since Mergon, Atterbury and other associates are involved with upliftment initiatives covering a large part of the spectrum of South African, African and other societies, I felt free to consider financing a programme focussed on the educational upliftment of a demographic sector often overlooked and particularly close to my heart, the so-called Brown population group. Apart from the Afrikaans language, there is a shared heritage as well as cultural and other commonalities between us,’ explains Francois.
Together with the Mergon CEO, Pieter Faure, it was agreed for the Mergon Foundation to administer MOI along with several other ancillary Mergon community initiatives. MOI is furthermore centered around Christian values as well as Mergon’s core values of humility, courage, partnership, mastery and stewardship.
The thorough selection process focusses on grade 7 primary school candidates with a strong character foundation but lacking in sufficient financial support to complete their high school careers. Candidates must pass rigorous psychometric testing to establish intellectual ability, social and communication skills and leadership potential.
The bursary fund, which has a strong emphasis on mother tongue education throughout high school, started with 21 scholars in 2020 and was expanded with 25 more scholars in January 2021. The first intake of 21 scholars all successfully completed the 2020 academic year despite the many challenges they faced due to COVID-19, such as adapting to online schooling.
Working closely with Mergon management, MOI’s objective is to provide comprehensive support to its scholars. It is a self-sustaining, grade appropriate programme that doesn’t only focus on academic performance but also includes emotional, physical, social and spiritual well-being.
‘We believe that well-being is an active process during which scholars become aware of what a healthy, balanced and fulfilled life means, and whereby they learn how to make good life choices,’ says MOI coordinator, Jenene Petersen.
A mentorship programme is currently being developed with the aim of motivating, inspiring, and giving guidance and support to scholars in their pursuit of realising their personal, academic and professional goals.
‘All mentors will undergo a rigorous selection process and receive the appropriate training. Our goal is to ensure that each learner receives the necessary support in their various stages of development and we hope that their participation in the mentorship programme will be a fulfilling and positive journey,’ says Jenene.
‘The MOI bursary serves as a platform for each scholar to develop their character, identity and discover their purpose. We believe this will equip them to make a positive contribution to South Africa and to become leaders who expand the Kingdom of God in their everyday lives,’ concludes Jenene.
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