Boitshoko Mokgautsi likes to hang off people’s roofs, installing solar panels. As part of student group CentiGrade, the 21-year-old University of Johannesburg student helps young people get to grips with climate change by showing them ways to combat it. Whether planting trees with primary schoolchildren or teaching people to install solar panels as part of the group’s green living programme, Mokgautsi is actively involved in educating and empowering disadvantaged communities to be environmentally proactive.
Her parents are her heroes. “They allowed me to dream big. I wouldn’t be where I am today, or have achieved what I have, if it wasn’t for their constant encouragement.” They also told her to ignore the slights of others, because “God will deal with the things they do and hate in your heart will consume you too”.
Her work hasn’t gone unoticed. Last year Bayer chose her for their Young Environmental Programme, which brings 50 students from around the world to Germany for one week to learn about sustainable development. Being an ambassador for this programme has allowed her to travel outside her comfort zone and see how people live in other cultures. She came away from the experience inspired by the work of others and excited to implement new ideas on how to develop sustainably. “I want to see myself working for the United Nations as an ambassador for South Africa”. But not before she has completed her master’s.
A lack of education is her biggest bugbear and she thinks the way to combat environmental damage is through teaching people about how their actions affect their surroundings. This could create green entrepreneurs, whom she hopes government will support by “allocating funds towards the green economy”. Spoken like a true public management and governance student.
— Sipho Kings McDermott