Scientist works in modern chemistry/biology lab. Valid for commercial use.
Scientist works in modern chemistry/biology lab. Valid for commercial use.

Varsity chemistry students benefit from R32m funding injection

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Jul 6, 2021

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A TOTAL of 552 students pursuing studies in chemistry are benefiting from R32 million that has been allocated by the Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA) to six universities.

The number of the qualifying students is set to increase to about 600 and the funding to about R40m next year.

This was revealed by CHIETA chief executive Yershen Pillay in an interview with Independent Media yesterday.

“We initiated the funding for the students this year for the first time. The funding will continue over the next five years,” Pillay said.

He said the project’s name is Lesedi Youth Fund.

“Lesedi means light as we are brightening the future of the students by paying off their historical debts and providing funds towards the completion of their studies.

“This fund is unique in that it combines student debt support with work-integrated learning and workplace-based learning, thereby supporting learners across three different aspects of development,” Pillay said.

He also said that in addition to the R32.4m in student debt support, CHIETA’s new Youth Fund would support hundreds of young people with almost R8m in work-integrated learning and workplace-based learning opportunities.

Pillay said the country was faced with a considerable number of students that fell into a funding gap where they could not afford to pay for their university fees and they also did not qualify for free education from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

“The purpose of the project is to provide funding for missing middle learners who are in their final year of study. Learners will be supported for qualifications that fall within the chemicals sector and are aligned with the Skills Strategy of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.”

Pillay also said the CHIETA has allocated the funds directly to the institutions in order to administer the funds to deserving and qualifying students.

“It is the institutions that develop the criteria and administer the funds. We would then agree in terms of prioritising certain students in engineering and applied chemistry.”

Pillay said their focus was addressing talent in chemistry because they realised student debt was a reality in South Africa and affected largely poor and working class students.

He also said institutions such as CHIETA wanted to play a role and lead by example to address the problem which has for years faced the National Student Financial Aid Scheme and Department of Higher Education and Training.

Pillay called on the private sector to disburse funding for student debt.

The students who have received the CHIETA funds include the Tshwane University of Technology, the Vaal University of Technology, the Nelson Mandela University, the Mangosuthu University of Technology, the Durban University of Technology, and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

IOL

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