Access to funding for tertiary education has always been a challenge for South African high school pupils from poor and working-class families. Exxaro Resources subsidiary, Cennergi Holdings, has established several bursary programmes and continuous community education initiatives.
One of these initiatives, the Tsitsikamma Wind Farm Trust (TWFT) bursary programme, is proud to announce that its 23 bursary recipients have passed all of their subject modules. In addition, a total of 27 distinctions were obtained by beneficiaries in the first semester with 43% of the students attending contact classes, 35% using blended learning, and 22% attending virtual learning.
The Tsitsikamma Community Wind Farm (TCWF) is a project owned and developed by Cennergi and is located about 100 kilometres west of Gqeberha. The project has 31 wind turbines with a combined total capacity of 95 megawatts.
Cennergi owns 75% of the project, Tsitsikamma Development Trust and the landowner own 9%, and the rest is owned by RE Times. Cennergi Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cennergi Holdings, manages renewable energy operations on behalf of shareholders and communities, while TWFT, which administers the bursary, was established to empower and improve the quality of life of the communities located near the wind farm.
Mr. Takalani Maswime, Head of CSR and HR at Cennergi, said these educational initiatives were based on the idea that no child should be left behind because of their financial standing.
“Cennergi is proud to drive sustainable development by helping the youth of the surrounding communities with access to quality tertiary education that will give them a fighting chance in life,” said Maswime. “This assistance will not only develop the individual but ultimately the region, the country and the broader economy. Education is one of the pillars upon which South Africa will be better able to serve its people and reduce inequality and poverty.”
The TWFT bursary is offered to students from the Koukamma, AmaMfengu and Kouga communities and anyone who resides within 50 kilometres of the wind farm. It focuses on sponsoring students pursuing any undergraduate degree, certificate programme or diploma at a public university, a further education and training college, or a technical and vocational education and training college.
The bursary covers registration fees, tuition fees, accommodation costs, prescribed study material, and a stipend. Due to the onset of Covid-19 and its restrictions, students also received laptops to facilitate learning from home. In 2021, the Trust spent R1.4 million on its bursary programme and a further R2.3 million is set aside for 2022.
Among the top achievers are Amor Draai who graduated with a Higher Certificate in Early Childhood Care and Education, and Odwa Budaza who has already made use of his agriculture qualification by starting a farming business with his aunt, selling calves, pigs and chickens.
Recipient Nico Pieterse’s impressive performance has resulted in him being chosen to tutor mathematics and thermodynamics in the Faculty of Marine Engineering; Jozay Gouws started her in-service training as a chef at the premier Boardwalk Hotel in Gqeberha as part of the requirements to complete her Professional Chef Programme; and Giovanni Campher has been elected as a Residence Mentor for 2022 to help first year students adapt to, and succeed at, university.
Maswime added: “Such accomplishments in a short, challenging time give us great confidence in the programme and the potential of our youth. This investment goes a long way in young people having control and direction in their lives, hope for a better life, and we are proud to be part of this journey.”