MerSETA donates R9,036,000 to UWC
The University of the Western Cape (UWC) recently received a cheque for R9 036 000 from the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (merSETA).
“We appreciate merSETA’s contribution, which we undertake to ensure will be spent on improving our technological infrastructure for Dentistry and supporting the Science Teaching and Learning,” said UWC Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pretorius, receiving the cheque on behalf of the University.
“Receiving donations is always a special moment for us. It means a lot to this institution given our history and our context.”
The cheque was handed over by Dr Raymond Patel, merSETA’s Chief Executive Officer - who is not only a council member but also an alumnus of the institution. Patel was accompanied by merSETA Chief Operating Officer Wayne Adams and Cape Town Regional Manager Bronwyn Abrahams.
“These are the kinds of engagements we want with our alumni,” said UWC’s Director of Institutional Advancement, Patricia Lawrence. “merSETA, we thank you for your contribution and for being so receptive to our request.”
In 2013 the University of the Western Cape and merSETA forged an alliance in support of the training of teachers enrolled in mathematics and science programmes related to engineering. This initial funding helped support UWC’s Extended Curriculum Project (ECP), which supported educationally disadvantaged students and prepared them to progress to any of UWC’s many BSc programmes.
This was accomplished by supporting the employment of teaching assistants and tutors, and providing them with teacher training. So far 11 educators and 123 tutors have been recruited for the project.
This latest 2016 donation of R9 036 000 to UWC aims at bolstering the undergraduate teaching programme in the Faculty of Natural Sciences for the ECP through support for additional teaching assistants and tutors. This will ensure a higher success rate in the extended programme by giving additional learning support and reducing the student to facilitator ratio. This goes towards achieving the overall objective of supporting the development of undergraduate students’ interest in mathematics and science - the basis of the minimum requirements for careers in manufacturing and engineering.
The funding will also financially support postgraduate students within the faculty of natural sciences to successfully complete the requirements of their academic programme.
The UWC Faculty of Dentistry will be one of the beneficiaries, with the acquisition and installation of video conferencing technology connecting UWC’s Mitchells Plain and Tygerberg campuses.
“The technology will allow lectures to present to both campuses simultaneously and reduce the cost of transport between campuses”, said Professor Yusuf Osman, Dean of the UWC Dentistry Faculty.
Prof Michael Davies-Coleman, Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at UWC, explained that merSETA's support will help the University nurture talented students and develop even more world-class research programmes, while contributing to South Africa’s developing knowledge economy.
“As an institution we are really getting into the innovation space. We are a research-led institution, but we need to cement that notion. Our only obstacle in improving our university’s research output is the lack of funding”, he said.
“It was the #FeesMustFall movement that got us thinking about the issue of access to higher education, and because of that thinking we are here today handing over this cheque to UWC,” said Dr Patel.
“I remember in 1981, sitting as a student in this very boardroom with Professor Richard van der Ross, explaining to him the financial situation back home with a factory worker as a parent - even though I was top of my class, I was in danger of being expelled. But he told me to keep doing my best and that he would help me.”
“That shaped how I view education,” Dr Patel said. “So it is a pleasure to sit here as an alumnus of this institution - and as merSETA, we are very proud to be your lifelong partner, and to help carry that legacy of education and aid onwards.”