The South African National Treasury reports that the National Development Plan together with the government’s 2014-2019 medium-term strategic framework envisages that by 2030, South Africans should have access to post-school education and training of the highest quality, leading to significant improvements in what learners can do on completion of their higher education or training.

In line with the South African government’s education goals, GE Steam Power and Eskom, South Africa’s power utility, awarded 60 students with bursaries valued at more than R30-million to further their higher education. The bursaries will cover a living stipend, accommodation costs and books for each of the students, and will run for a period of four years. Eskom has also donated laptops to each of the bursary recipients.

Lee Dawes, General Manager, GE Steam Power in Sub-Saharan Africa said: “GE’s Steam Power business believes firmly in supporting the South African government’s commitment to skills development and we are proud to be a key participant of this initiative. We understand the importance of ensuring that the future generation of engineers, technicians and scientists have access to the training and support they need to develop and contribute to the development of the country.”

The bursary recipients are from Ehlanzeni, Gert Sibande and Nkangala districts in the Mpumalanga province where Eskom and GE are currently completing the flagship power station projects, Medupi and Kusile. As a responsible corporate citizen, GE ensures that it contributes towards local skills and economic development in the province through various initiatives such as graduate development programmes through the Accelerated  and Shared Growth Initiative South Africa with government.

Speaking at the awards ceremony held for the bursars, executive mayor of the Nkangala District, Councillor Linah Malatjie said: “We commend you for a job well done and encourage you to maintain your spirit of hard work, dedication and commitment. We are planting a seed towards ensuring an improved level of the graduate professional base in the district. We will achieve this through ensuring that education remains a priority in moving our district forward and this bursary initiative reflects this commitment.”

The students will further their higher education at more than 10 institutions across South Africa. For the bursars to be selected, they had to have a minimum of 60% in mathematics, physical science, accounting and English in grade 12. Each of the students also had to be a full-time undergraduate first-year student at an accredited South African university  or University of Technology.

“The future of the African continent is reliant on skills, especially in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and these bursaries will ensure great progression through the empowerment of the youth of Mpumalanga. This initiative is one of many programmes that GE’s Steam Power business is implementing to empower the youth with skills, especially in communities where we work,” said Nthabiseng  Kubheka, GE Steam Power Project Director at the Kusile power plant.

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