Public-private partnerships play an integral part in changing the lives of pupils and students, helping them to attain higher education that might not have been possible before.
This is according to the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, who says: “Constructive partnerships need to be built between the government and the corporate sector, as the corporate sector has a role to play in development.”
The Minister was speaking at the Sasol Inzalo Foundation graduation ceremony. “You know all too well the devastating consequences of the under-investment that was the dominant feature of the education system we inherited,” she adds.
More than 100 science and engineering university graduates, mostly women, were recognised for successfully completing their respective degree courses, ranging from undergraduate to doctorate level. The students are participants in the Sasol Inzalo Foundation (SaIF) Science and Engineering Undergraduate Bursary Programme and the Science Fellowship Programme.
These two programmes, run under the auspices of SaIF, have seen 105 black students graduate in the past year. Of these, 70 students are from the Science and Engineering Undergraduate Bursary Programme and 35 are from the Science Fellowship Programme.
“In other words, it is through projects and partnerships, such as this bursary fund programme, that education opens the door to a brighter and more prosperous future. I therefore extend a special word of gratitude and congratulations to the Sasol Inzalo Foundation for this initiative,” Pandor says.
Pandor says it is through sustained educational development that we will create the intellectual base and the skills needed for social and economic transformation. “It is vital that South Africa continues to build a strong and productive skills base that will enable us to expand our economy and compete in a globalising world.”
The Science and Engineering Undergraduate Bursary Programme invests in students pursuing studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Over and above financial support, the programme offers students additional non-financial support, such as social support and access to Sasol’s wellness programme, including optometry, if required. Since 2010, the programme has funded 510 students, with a focus on promoting women.
The Science Fellowship Programme aims to groom and graduate skilled masters and PhD chemistry and environmental chemistry researchers to expand the pool of such researchers from previously disadvantaged backgrounds in South Africa and to build research capacity at historically disadvantaged universities. These include the University of Venda, the University of Limpopo , the University of Zululand, the University of Fort Hare, Walter Sisulu University, North-West University (Mafikeng campus), and the University of the Free State (QwaQwa campus).
Through this programme, Sasol leverages its technical expertise by encouraging scientists from its Group Technology function to mentor students in the programme and present lectures in specialised courses at the universities that need them. This is also in line with the aims of the National Research Foundation and the Department of Science and Technology.
Dr Yvonne Muthien, the chairman of the Sasol Inzalo Foundation, adds: “The Foundation leverages strategic partnerships to make a tangible difference to the lives of hundreds of students, while contributing to entrenching South Africa as a destination of innovation.”