Port Elizabeth – Absa Bank donated R7 million to Nelson Mandela University for financially needy students on Monday.
The money which is split into 92 ABSA CEO Scholarships and debt clearance for over 100 students for the year 2016 is set to help academically deserving students from the humanities, commerce, engineering, and technology departments especially those that belong to the “missing middle”.
In a short ceremony held at the University’s Chancellor’s room in the Sports Centre Absa donated its first cash donation which is part of a three-year partnership with the University which seeks to widen access to university to deserving youth.
Absa Provincial Managing Executive Tshiwela Mhlantla said that as Absa they have decided to reprioritise money from sports but focus on education and rather partner with 21 universities. Mhlantla continued to say that they invested R1.4Billion in education and skills training between 2016 and 2018 across the African continent. She urged students to join the Absa Ready to Work programme as it is free and it seeks to address the challenges of the youth by getting them ready for the working world and enhance their entrepreneurial, people and self-employment skills.
Deputy Vice Chancellor of Teaching & Learning, Prof Denise Zinn and Acting CEO of the Nelson Mandela University Trust said they welcome the partnership. Zinn said she is especially thankful for the donation as it links with the new university mission and vision that have come with the name change. She said this is a huge step in moving towards a humanising pedagogy as the University is trying to embody Ubuntu and Integrity, values that ABSA also shares.
SRC President, Pedro Mzileni said he is grateful for the money but large organisations such as ABSA must urge government to return NSFAS Administration back to Universities as NSFAS is not coping with the admin anymore. Mzileni said that they as students do not aim to collapse Universities but the Feesmustfall movements were necessary conflict to ensure that the system changes.
He further said that he urges ABSA to persuade the government to invest more money in education especially infrastructure, as it is not like bursaries that only benefit that one-person, infrastructure development as Mzileni argued, benefits groups of students. He also called for all Deans for a transformed syllabus that would respond to the problems of the South Africa and the South African Economy to ensure that South Africa develops.
One of the bursary recipients who did not want to be named said that he was happy that he had received the bursary as this would help alleviate the financial strain that his studies were on his single mom. He said that it meant that he could excel without having to worry whether he would be able to finish off his degree in record time.
The bursary is given to students who have a minimum average of 55%. ABSA has sworn to donate R17 Million but have started with R7 Million, the rest of the R10 million will be split into three-year partnership focusing on strategic University support, focused research and capacity development initiatives.