On Tuesday 18 June Tata Africa handed over 13 scholarships worth R400 000 to post-graduate students at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
It is the first time NMMU has received the prestigious post-graduate scholarships from the Indian conglomerate, which has since 2006 awarded 194 Tata Africa scholarships worth nearly R10-million. In addition to NMMU, recipients are at Wits, the University of KwaZulu-Natal and further afield in Ghana and Kenya.
“Africa is the rising star in the world,” said Tata Africa Managing Director Raman Dhawan, addressing recipients at the handover ceremony on Tuesday. “The best in the world are about to set up shop here. Don’t be pessimistic about anything. You, the youth, will take this continent further.”
He said Tata was investing in Africa’s future by ploughing into education and skills. He said the “one string attached” was that scholarship recipients must use their skills “to give back to the community”.
NMMU recipients included three doctoral, five masters and five honours students, who received scholarships of R50 000 (doctoral), R30 000 (masters) and R25 000 (honours). Their fields of study include business and economic sciences, applied language studies, nursing, geosciences, corporate communication, chemistry, biomedical technology, IT Communication, microbiology and education.
Deputy-Vice Chancellor: Research and Engagement Prof Thoko Mayekiso said one the strategic priorities of NMMU’s Vision 2020 was to create and sustain an environment that encouraged, supported and rewarded a vibrant research and innovation culture. “These scholarships will make a meaningful contribution to the achievement of this priority.
“In basically all higher education systems around the world, the importance of post-graduate education and training for the emerging knowledge societies and economies has been recognized… Knowledge production has become a strategic resource necessary to gain or keep competitive advantages.”
One of the scholarship recipients was MSc medical microbiology student Kwanele Gqunta, who is the first member of his family to attend university. Watching his parents battling to help fund his under-graduate studies, the Soweto-on-Sea student was determined to succeed, passing his BSc degree cum laude and then getting his Honours research project published in an accredited journal.
“I feel very privileged to be selected as a recipient,” said 23-year-old Gqunta. “I want to inspire other youth in the township by telling them that through hard work, you can attain whatever you want in life,” said Gqunta, who plans to complete his PhD in medical microbiology, and then use his research and skills to make a contribution to society. “Tata is turning my dreams into reality.”