Bongani’s app testimony to guts, passion

Bongani Mngaza

NMMU alumnus never gave up after failing his third year and persevered in his bid to help

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University alumnus Bongani Mngaza, 28, has developed an app called Sgela Saam, which will help high school pupils with subjects they struggle with, share study material and problem-solving methods – and hopefully improve the pass rate in the Eastern Cape.

Mngaza, who admits to having failed at his first attempt in trying to create an app that would make a difference, said he would not have come this far had he not been challenged during the final year of his studies in IT software development.

“Sgela Saam came about as a repeat project. In 2012, I was doing my third year and, as part of completing our studies, students as a group had to come up with a project that consisted of everything we had learnt during our university career.

“At first we did a night life app, which would tell people about the hip and happening spots in whatever town they found themselves in,” Mngaza said.

“But unfortunately it didn’t make it. As a result, I didn’t do well in my third year.

“I repeated my third year. But before that I would throw around ideas and do a bit of research for my next project, and that’s where Sgela Saam came up.”

Mngaza, who partnered with four other students to help with the finances and the upkeep of the app, said that in coming up with the project he wanted something that he would still be working on, even after having completed his studies.

“I worked with Keneilwe Lipman, Mduduzi Magaqa, Mbulelo Ngowapi, and Mbongeni Maxama. “We are all very much responsible for the app’s upkeep and we have to help each other to ensure that we are helping high school pupils.”

NMMU information systems lecturer and third year project supervisor to Mngaza and his peers, Cheryl Schroder, said: “He’s always worked hard and I am so proud of him because, despite the fact that he failed his third year, he picked himself up, dusted himself off and really got into this one.

“He and his peers were really passionate about helping young pupils and they really put hours and hours into this app.

“A lot of people could learn from him and his peers because of the guts and the determination they showed.

“He’s always going out there and constantly trying to make a difference.

“What they’ve created really can make a difference, especially to those who don’t have the resources. I wish him so much success,” she said.

Mngaza said his wish was that the app would make a difference throughout South Africa.

High school pupils can get hold of the app by searching URL, he said.

“It will ask you to register. Once you’ve registered, you will automatically have a profile which you can keep updating. You can engage with other high school learners and do a whole lot more.”

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