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Absa allocates over R6 million for disadvantaged Unisa students

Absa, one of South Africa’s leading financial institutions, has allocated R6.5 million for Unisa to assist students from disadvantaged families with scholarships for the 2017 academic year.

When institutions like Unisa and Absa come together, great things happen. Pictured at the cheque hand-over and MoU signing on 22 August 2017: Fuad Adams (Relationship Executive, Absa), David Farirai (Director: Institutional Advancement, Unisa), Phumulani Zwane (Chief Financial Officer and Vice-Principal: Finance, Unisa), Prof Mandla Makhanya (Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Unisa), Oscar Siziba (ABsa Managing Executive: Northern region), Marius Alberts (Regional Executive: Retail Bank), Jessica Cronje (Team Leader: Corporate Coverage), and Khanya Mahlare (Executive Director: Department of Communication and Marketing, Unisa).

Unisa and Absa also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on 22 August 2017 to formalise a long-standing public-private partnership to enhance education through the Unisa-Absa Public-Private Partnership Scholarship Programme.

Oscar Siziba (Absa Managing Executive: Northern Region) and Prof Mandla Makhanya (Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Unisa), are excited about what this cash injection means for disadvantaged Unisa students.

The scholarship programme is aimed at tackling social changes and driving economic growth by contributing to the improvement of enterprise skills, financial skills and life skills of the next generation through the awarding of scholarships to disadvantaged, deserving young people, and  enabling them to realise their potential.

As stipulated in the MoU (for the purpose of disbursing funds), each beneficiary will receive a maximum of R70 000 per annum. It is therefore the university’s task to ensure and demonstrate that each student gets a full scholarship, which includes tuition fees, books, accommodation and meals.

Oscar Siziba, Absa Managing Executive: Northern Region, shared that they realise the importance of education and needed to find an institution that has access to those who are needy. “Unisa was it. This institution resembles what we were looking for, and that is now giving us the opportunity to reach out to communities to make a difference,” he said.

Siziba explained why this partnership is so important. “We are not experts, and sometimes we don’t understand the community, but Unisa is one of those institutions that reaches many people on the African continent, that are able to come together for a common cause.”

Unisa is a powerful brand

He believes this is a journey where we can all hold hands together. “Unisa is well known; this institution is a powerful brand. For us as Absa to partner with such a powerful brand is great. Not only for this opportunity to reach out, but also to make us proud. I’m excited to see our two flags together and this is certainly the beginning of a great relationship,” Siziba said with a smile.

Oscar Siziba (Absa Managing Executive: Northern Region) believes this is a journey where we can all hold hands together. He is flanked by Prof Mandla Makhanya (Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Unisa) and David Farirai (Director: Institutional Advancement, Unisa).

Equally excited about what this means for the future of Unisa students is Prof Mandla Makhanya, Principal and Vice-Chancellor at Unisa. He shared that this partnership has come at the perfect time where a new picture has raised its ugly head in the form of students unable to pay their fees and, sometimes, leaving their studies unfinished. “As an institution, we’ve had to think seriously about how we were going to manage these challenges,” he said. “We’ve been experiencing challenges from students, on the one hand, but on the other hand, subsidies from the state have been dwindling,” the VC added.

This cash injection for Unisa students will certainly have a great impact on the country as a whole. “Our only hope is that as universities, we must produce citizens who matter within society, and who begin to at least prompt citizenry in people who are going to have an interest in all our institutions. This is key not only for the safekeeping of these institutions, but also for its sustenance as we move into the future,” he urged.

The VC extended his gratitude to ABSA for this huge stride in making education possible and feasible. “Absa coming to support us as an institution is something that we really value. We want to thank you on behalf of the beneficiaries for what you are extending to us,” he said.

*By Kirosha Naicker

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