Corporate Social Investment

IDC's R5.6m boost for future scientists from disadvantaged schools

handover1 300Acting Divisional Executive: Corporate Affairs, Shakeel Meer, handing over a cheque for R5.6-million to Wits University Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib at the university's Braamfontein campus on Wednesday, 15 April.April 2015

A R5.6-million donation will enable 50 talented learners from IDC-adopted schools to acquire the savvy and skills they will need to succeed in science, technology and engineering at university level

The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has donated R5.6-million to Wits University's Targeting Talent Programme, which provides vital pre-university enrichment support to enable talented learners from underprivileged schools to study science, technology and engineering at university level.

The funding will enable 50 academically talented learners, selected from the IDC's 20 adopted schools countrywide, to embark on a three-year programme designed to help them overcome the disadvantages of their background in order to realise their full academic potential.

The programme provides both the learners and their teachers with supplementation and enrichment programmes. The programme also includes workshops for the learners’ families to provide crucial information in order for them to give the necessary support.

The IDC's Divisional Executive: Chemicals and Textiles Industries and acting Divisional Executive: Corporate Affairs, Shakeel Meer, handed a cheque for R5.6-million to Wits University Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib at the university's Braamfontein campus on Wednesday, 15 April.

'We need the right skills to build these industries'

handover2 300Speaking at the handing over, Meer said the Targeting Talent Programme played a crucial role in nurturing urgently needed skills in science, engineering and technology in South Africa.

"We need people with the right skills and education to build our industries," he said, adding that the IDC was working with a number of technical colleges in the country to provide assistance with practical training for students.

The programme would also help to overcome historical imbalances in the country, Meer said. "We want to assist learners from underprivileged backgrounds, and that is why I think it is appropriate to keep supporting this programme."

The IDC first gave its backing to the programme in 2011, sponsoring a group of 21 promising learners from rural Limpopo province to take part in the three-year programme. All 21 learners successfully graduated from the programme in 2013, and 18 of them went on to study at university or technical college level.

Bridging the boundaries between past and the future

Professor Habib said he was thrilled that the IDC and Wits were advancing their partnership on an initiative that was bridging the boundaries between the past and future South Africa.

"This is a fantastic partnership that will create human resources that are relevant to the country’s development," Habib said. "This initiative creates hope in our ability to transform our society."

Zena Richards, director of the university's Student Equity and Talent Management unit, said that the programme worked by exposing underprivileged learners to the social capital required for success, while teaching them different kinds of skills for critical thinking and engagement.

"The biggest challenge is to sustain the funding for this type of programme, so that the lessons we have learnt and the products we have developed are sustained.," Richards said.

The Targeting Talent Programme was launched in 2007 in partnership with the Goldman Sachs Foundation and the Telkom Foundation. The majority of the 1 163 learners who have since graduated from the programme are currently studying at various universities in faculties of science, engineering and built environment, and commerce, law and management.

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