8 July 2013
Global energy group BP, in partnership with University of the Witwatersrand, is to invest R105-million over the next six years in developing a pipeline of talented professionals for South Africa.
The investment, announced in Johannesburg on Friday, will enable over 900 gifted grade 10 to 12 pupils from rural schools in Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga province participate in the university’s Targeting Talent Programme between now and 2018.
The programme, which has been running now for six years, is specially designed to help pupils bridge the gap between high school and university.
The programme comprises residential interventions during school holidays over a two- to three-year period, during which time the pupils complete an academic curriculum covering subjects such as maths, information technology and molecular literacy.
By providing holistic talent development, the programme seeks to counter possible negative influences on gifted students and to boost their academic, social and psychological preparation for university.
Speaking at Friday’s launch event, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters applauded the venture between BP and Wits University, saying that gaining access to university was still a challenge for many South Africans.
“This programme is adding value to lives,” Peters told an audience that included pupils chosen by Wits to be part of the programme.
Success required determination, the minister said, adding that South Africa was going through a transition phase during which skills would be needed for the country’s massive infrastructure build.
Former Wits vice-chancellor and the founder of the Targeting Talent Programme, Professor Loyiso Nongxa, said the programme was a tool for addressing societal challenges such as inequality.
Mmadikgetho Komane, who was named the top national matriculant of 2012, is a graduate of the programme.
“The cause is close to my heart,” Komane said on Friday. “The programme was a life-changing experience. TTP taught me the value of hard work,” she said, adding that while dreaming big was important, one had to be willing to work hard.