For young people in the Northern Cape indigenous communities, tertiary education has long been an elusive dream. Now, their chances of accessing education and training have improved significantly, thanks to an R25 million donation towards the Sol Plaatje University’s (SPU) Lesedi La Afrika Fund by Anglo American’s subsidiaries Kumba Iron Ore and De Beers Group.
The Lesedi La Afrika Fund aims to raise R100 million in the next three years to support the university’s scholarships, infrastructure, social impact projects, and staff wellness programs. Kumba Iron Ore has pledged R20 million towards the fund, and De Beers a further R5 million.
Qondakele Sompondo, Director for Institutional Advancement at SPU, said the funding would make a significant impact on the lives of the youth of the Northern Cape.
“The plight of the youth in indigenous communities (Nama, San, Khoi, and Griqua) and in the Northern Cape is something that needs our urgent attention. Through the fund, we want to do something bigger than normal: we will award scholarships to augment what NSFAS is doing by funding the poorest of the poor,” he said.
Kumba Iron Ore’s Executive Head of Corporate Affairs, Pranill Ramchander, said the company’s donation was ‘an investment into the future of the Northern Cape’. “Education is one of the key pillars in Kumba’s Sustainable Mining Plan aimed to improve the lives of young people, not only in our host communities but across the Northern Cape province,” he said.
De Beers Group production manager Sonja van Rooyen said the company’s R5 million donation was part of its ongoing commitment to the province and its people. “Through this endowment, we want to make a university education available to more youth of this province,” she said.
Speaking at a gala dinner hosted by SPU as part of its 10-year celebrations, Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Andrew Crouch reflected on the significant progress the university has made in the nine years of its existence.
“Sol Plaatje University started humble and built up to where it is today because of people wanting to bring change in the province and ultimately the country through the power of teaching and learning and producing graduates,” he said.
SPU has seen major growth in its enrolment figures and staff recruitment in recent years, with 60% of its academic staff having PhDs. As part of its sustainable growth, the institution is committed to community engagement and scholarly activity. “The University should be embedded in the community and society and contribute towards producing knowledgeable graduates who plough back to their communities,” said Prof Crouch.