Exxaro gives disadvantaged matriculants a second shot at university entrance

Black empowered and diversified resources company Exxaro, has awarded 10 matric pupils in its host communities with a 100% sponsorship to the Edumap College bridging programme to improve their 2020 matric results and help them to qualify for university entrance. 

This 12-month programme focuses on improving the learners' mathematics and physical science matric marks so that they can better qualify for university programmes and meet the university entrance requirements. The sponsorship is valued at R1.2-million. 

South Africa's education system faces significant challenges – one of which is that many school leavers, who might be bright and talented but do not have the requisite skills set or marks to enter tertiary education. 

Exxaro’s Executive Head of Human Resources, Vanisha Balgobind, says that interventions were needed to help talented high school learners to overcome conditions, which they had little control over. 

“We believe a quality education helps empower young boys and girls to succeed in the future and in partnership with Edumap our sponsorship will help these 10 promising young people to thrive during their tertiary education and beyond. We believe deeply in the power of education to break barriers, build community and change the world for the better,” said Balgobind. 

She said Exxaro’s decision to assist these learners was underpinned by its commitment to Goal 4 of the United Nations Sustainable Development goals – promoting free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education for all children. 

Edumap College provides a tertiary transition programme for students from disadvantaged communities in South Africa, where matriculant learners with academic potential and who do not currently meet university entrance requirements, are identified. Mathematics, Physical Science and English are upgraded and rewritten. 

The other component of the course is academic enrichment whereby a variety of courses are designed to extend the students' level of expertise in the areas of Communication, Computer Skills, Life Skills, Engineering Drawing & Design, Business Skills, Environmental Science and Additional Mathematics. 

Balgobind noted that Covid-19 had severely disrupted schools and learning in 2020, amid the temporary closure of schools globally as a safety precaution. 

“Nowhere was this disruption more evident than in our host communities where the education system is often under-resourced and under pressure. The UN notes that never before have so many children been out of school at the same time globally, disrupting learning and upending lives, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised. In this context, Exxaro is proud to play a helping hand in supporting education that enables socio-economic mobility and in the long-term reduces poverty," adds Balgobind. 

The sponsorship is also part of Exxaro’s commitment to search for future employees from within its host communities who can grow and transition with it. The company awards bursaries for qualifying students to pursue careers in technical disciplines such as engineering mine surveying, geology, electronics and computer science. 

As part of the company’s human resource development initiatives, which reduce core skills shortages in the South African mining industry – Exxaro invested further invests in talent management and people development of its employees. 

In 2020, Exxaro spent R227 million or 5.04% of its payroll on training and development including: R114 million on job-related operational and technical training (operator training and mobile equipment licences); R93 million on bursaries, training professionals, internships, learnerships and skills programmes to secure our talent pipeline; and R7.4 million on developing targeted employees in management programmes, leadership roles, postgraduate studies and support functions. 

“To meet our skills requirements, we invest in current and potential employees, as well as members of communities in our labour-sending areas (99% in South Africa). Our bursary, graduate, learnership and skills development initiatives empower local communities to compete for positions. 

“Learning programmes optimise individual potential for growth and meaningful contribution. We examine key areas across the value chain - to ensure the right skills are available at the right time. More than half of our talent pipeline spend is dedicated to artisan and miner learnership development,” concludes Balgobind.