The Imprint of Education study

The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program  provides scholarships to academically gifted but socio-economically disadvantaged students through secondary and tertiary education on the African continent. Seeking to understand the impact of university education on first generation graduates, the Mastercard Foundation has funded the HSRC  to conduct a longitudinal cohort study, The Imprint of Education  (TIE). Over a period of five years, TIE is pursuing questions on topics such as ethical and transformative leadership, giving back, livelihoods, identity, mentoring and work with the view to understand how to better prepare young African graduates to have a real impact on their worlds. It is envisaged the learnings will enable the Scholars Program to identify what works and why, as well as how it can be improved.

Research Team

The study is led by the HSRC’s Professor Sharlene Swartz as Principal Investigator, with Dr Alude Mahali and Dr Andrea Juan as Co-Principal Investigators. They are supported by four senior scholars as Deputy Principal Investigators -  Professor Relebohile Moletsane (University of KwaZulu-Natal), Professor David Everatt (University of the Witwatersrand's School of Governance), Professor Ibrahim Oanda (CODESRIA) and Professor Crain Soudien (HSRC). 

Study Sites

Focusing on seven sites – Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Ethiopia and the Diaspora, it is organised into five distinct but interlinked Learning Activities (LA). 


Table 1: Learning Activities


Learning Activity

Brief description

LA 1 - Tertiary and Secondary School Alumni Tracer Study (ATS)

A quantitative longitudinal tracer study that maps pathways and outcomes of tertiary and secondary school alumni. It provides the quantitative foundation from which LA 2 to 5 are anchored conceptually and qualitatively.

LA 2 - Research As Intervention Qualitative Study (RAIQS)

An in-depth qualitative study that aims to understand individual, structural, contextual and programmatic factors that mediate alumni trajectories as well as their impact on their families, communities and societies.

LA 3 - Academic and organic insights from elders, leaders and peers on leadership and identity (ILI)

A showcase of African insights and scholarship on leadership, reciprocity, poverty and identity.

LA 4 -  Hindsight reports from institutional leaders on mentoring and transitions (HMT)

Engagements with experienced scholars and thought leaders on their reimaginings of higher education on the African continent. For a description of the Reimagining the African university component, please click on this link. 

LA 5 - Foresight dialogues with experts and participants on livelihoods, activism and mental health (FLAM)

A focus on the structural barriers that may hinder young people from giving back or  embodying transformative leadership.