Conservation students to benefit from trust bursaries
Students studying nature conservation at the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) are set to benefit from the Schalk Willem Theron Trust.
The trust entered into a partnership with the South African National Parks (SANParks) and NMU to ensure that the legacy of the fervent conservationist is upheld. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that directs the relationship between the primary stakeholders was signed at the NMU George campus on Friday 28 September.
Trust representative Mechiel Jacobus Boshoff stated that the bursary will commence in 2020 for students in their second year of study in nature conservation, prioritising those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
"These are students whose combined family income is between R350 000 and R600 000 per annum and who fall outside the parameters of the government's NSFAS bursary scheme. An initial amount of R2-million will be invested at NMU to fund bursaries for five promising students," said Boshoff. The scheme will also avail funding for honours and masters students.
SANParks chief executive officer Fundisile Mketeni said, "The heart of the organisation is to see young people actively involved in the conservation of nature. This includes training and career advancement in the sector. In addition, SANParks will cooperate fully with the terms of the MoU by facilitating the selection of student recipients for the bursary, the placement of selected bursary holders for in-service training for completion of the practical year of the qualification at SANParks facilities and others".
Dr Denver Webb of the university's Strategic Resource Mobilisation Office welcomed the partnership and thanked both the Schalk Willem Trust and SANParks for partnering with the university. "The introduction of free higher education for some categories of students has helped the university broaden access to quality higher education, but there are still many students who are academically deserving but financially needy that do not qualify for free higher education and whom this intervention is going to assist. The focus on nature conservation bursaries is also to be welcomed, as traditionally this has not attracted external funding to the same extent as some other courses," he said.
An initial amount of R2-million will be invested at NMU to fund bursaries for five promising students.
Mike and Rinette Boshoff (representing the Schalk Willem Theron Trust) together with Prof Sibongile Muthwa, Vice-Chancellor and Fundisile Mketeni, CEO of SANParks.