StudyTrust students Thrive! despite COVID-19

For over 45 years, StudyTrust (a national bursary organisation) has empowered youth by connecting high-potential learners with bursary opportunities. Its founding is centered on the conviction that potential is equally distributed in the population, and making opportunities and support available to all is key to unlocking it.

StudyTrust and Free To Grow share a passion to develop capability through education and became partners on this journey in 2012. Since then, Free To Grow has presented programmes to help bursary holders discover their self-worth and channel their determination.

StudyTrust’s commitment to inspire their students motivated them to continue finding ways to enrich learners’ lives, despite the social distancing constraints brought about by COVID-19. In 2020, StudyTrust approached Free To Grow to present a series of webinars that will provide their students with the tools for proactive self-development and accelerated growth.

Free To Grow’s 4-day personal mastery programme, Thrive!, was the perfect vehicle for this. Thrive! helps young people become future-orientated, develop strong self-esteem and accept ownership of their lives. The programme goes beyond traditional EQ to address the underlying values, beliefs and attitudes that shape choices and behaviour. It inspires people to become their best and to fully utilising opportunities offered to them.

Traditionally facilitated face-to-face, Free To Grow effectively adapted Thrive! into a series of virtual webinars that were designed to ensure the programme delivered the same learning outcomes. As commented by FTG facilitator, Mbuso Mlagisi, this speaks to the resilience of the learners and the programme:

“While at first, I was concerned about achieving a deep connection over a virtual platform, I was pleasantly surprised that it’s truly possible. The human spirit remains undefeated and when you can bring your heart into it, you can still meaningfully reach out and touch lives. It was an amazing journey; we all adapted, and we thrived.”

To the left, Free To Grow facilitator, Mbuso Mlagisi, runs a virtual check before connecting with students via ZOOM. To the right Computer Science major, Brandon Pahla, shares a bit more about himself.


When it comes to the quality, impact and affordability of Free To Grow’s programmes, National Director Dr Murray Hofmeyr shared the following:

“Free To Grow selects their facilitators with great care and takes quality very seriously. The intensive training that they deliver ensures high standards that are constantly tested through evaluations. They always ensure that their programmes are affordable and are therefore also competitive from a budget perspective. Based on our extremely positive experience and our shared beliefs, we wholeheartedly recommend Free To Grow.”

Assessment of programme impact

How learners assessed the relevance of Thrive! and the ability of the programme to help them deal with the challenges presented by COVID-19.


Thrive! participant, Brandon Pahla, shared how the programme impacted his life:

“Thank you so much for your life-changing sessions, it has been amazing being with you for the past couple of weeks. I am a man of few words, and I have a flair for problem-solving and that is what brings joy in my heart. I am working hard to let that joy be felt by the world at large, you have inspired me in such a way that there is no word yet invented that can explain it.” 

The delivery of Thrive! was a further milestone on Free To Grow’s journey with StudyTrust – opening-up opportunities for South Africa’s youth and creating pathways to a promising future.