Department bursary helps Masters graduate achieve his goals

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

A 29-year-old Chemistry Masters graduate and former bursary holder from the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has taken it upon himself to become a torchbearer for young professionals who want to join the sector to help find lasting solutions to the country’s water challenges.

Soft spoken Kagiso Komane from Kgobokwane outside Dennilton in Limpopo, despite the odds severely stacked against him, obtained his Masters of Applied Sciences in Chemistry from the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in 2022.

Komane said he never considered himself smarter than anyone he studied with, and this was testament when his matric results came with poor grades in Mathematics and Science, which “I felt would hinder me to pursue a career in a science related field”.

“I completed my matric from Ramatshagala High School in 2011 but performed poorly in both subjects. This then saw me having to upgrade my results for two years where I worked extra hard to ensure that my marks will get me in the chemistry field,” Komane said. 

Komane committed to his studies and passed both Mathematics and Science on the third attempt, which enabled him to enrol for a National Diploma in Analytical Chemistry at Tshwane University of Technology in 2014. 

After obtaining his diploma, Komane was awarded a bursary from the Department of Water and Sanitation, which funded his B-Tech degree and Masters.

“I stayed the course until I finally obtained a Masters of Applied Sciences in Chemistry last year. This remains the biggest milestone in my entire life which I never would have achieved had it not been for the amazing and unconditional support from the department,” Komane said.

The department’s bursary aims to help students complete their tertiary studies within the water and sanitation field.

The bursary covered full tuition fees, accommodation and food as per university guidance, books and stationery allowance, as well as a monthly stipend.

Komane has since become a mentor to university students where he offers free tutoring for chemistry classes during his spare time.

He is currently on a four-year internship programme within the department, and his day-to-day job entails assessing water quality as part of the Blue and Green Drop Certification Programme, which takes into account the quality of drinking water, along with wastewater treatment.

Komane is also part of a team, which is in the process of working to come up with solutions to address the Hartebeesport Dam hyacinth.

When asked what some of the downsides about his work are, an excited Komane said: "There is absolutely nothing that I dislike about my job,” while jokingly expressing that being a scientist comes with a misconception that one always has the answers to every problem.

“My biggest goal in life is to inspire confidence to the generation that comes after mine. My desire is to see black children boldly take on opportunities in the chemistry field and grab whatever opportunity which may come their way to reach for their dreams,” an optimistic Komane said.

Bursary applications open in July

This year’s applications for DWS bursaries will open on 01 July 2023.

The department said bursaries will be allocated based on a balanced consideration of the factors, including academic performance, race and gender, financial need, and the need of DWS in respect to specific qualifications.

“DWS will require bursars who obtain their qualifications to join the Water Learning Academy on a fixed term contract for a period of three years,” the department said.

The department established a Learning Academy in 2007, which is a response to address the scarce and technical skills gap in the sector through sponsoring study bursaries in the science and engineering disciplines.

The awarding of bursaries is done in collaboration with all universities in the country, to ensure 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 during which the bursars get relevant workplace exposure and additional training until they are ready to register as professionals with their relevant professional bodies,” the department said.

According to the Academy’s programme coordinator, Susan Andrews, the best is yet to come for Komane.

“Komane's commitment to uplifting those who come after him is something which I think 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,” Andrews said.

Information pertaining to the Department of Water and Sanitation's external bursary fund can be found on the web page ( –