BP has invested R105m into a remarkable South African youth development programme that targets academically gifted learners from marginalised backgrounds and prepare them for university.
Titled, Targeting Talent Programme, the initiative is administered by Wits University. It features Wits University former principal Loyiso Nongxa as a “custodian”.
In a statement released on Friday BP said the investment will see more than 900 gifted grade 10, 11 and 12 learners from rural schools in Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga participate in a specially designed programme to bridge the gap between high school and university. The objective, said the sponsors, is to create a pipeline of exceptionally talented professionals to take the country forward.
The statement said the Targeting Talent Programme provides holistic talent development and aims to counter possible negative influences such as a lack of rigorous curriculum, poorly trained teachers and the absence of successful role models in rural communities. It provides the missing elements that assist learners to aspire to, prepare for, and obtain university enrollment.
Thandi Orleyn, BP Chairperson “Having been a sponsor of the project since its inception in 2010, we have been consistently impressed by its results, which is why we have undertaken to make the initiative BP South Africa’s flagship corporate social responsibility venture for the next decade. The programme is a clear demonstration on BP’s part to actively contribute to the country’s national growth and economic development”.
Past learners who participated during 2010 and 2011 include Ngoanapedi Mmadikgetho Komane who was named last year’s top national matriculant. Of the 199 learners who participated along with her, 192 successfully matriculated, almost all of them are currently studying at tertiary institutions, said the statement.
Nongxa said students coming out of the programme prove to be tenacious in their education pursuits. “These students are among the first in their families to attend university and obtain a degree – something which will change their lives forever. Through BP’s continuous support these learners are much more ready emotionally and academically for what lies ahead at university and have been given all the tools they need in order to reach their full potential”.
The statement noted that of the learners from the pilot Wits TTP Programme who matriculated last year, 127 are currently enrolled at various tertiary institutions pursuing their first year of studies – 29% in Science, 27% in Commerce, Law and Management and 24% in Engineering and Built Environment qualifications, 16% in the Health Sciences and 4% in Humanities.
The Minister of Energy, Dipuo Peters said “We expect that corporate South Africa plays a major role in the transformation agenda, and this initiative is an instructive example of how businesses can drive a concerted effort to develop, nurture and sustain black executive talent, targeting especially the youth”.