About 6 000 students who received bursaries from the Free State provincial government now have laptops. In awarding these laptops, Premier Ace Magashule fulfilled the promise he made during his State of the Province Address in March to give all bursary holders laptops.
Announcing the “one-student-one laptop” initiative, Premier Magashule said bursary holders would receive laptops to help them with their studies. “Nowadays it is very hard to study at universities without access to the Internet or a computer to do assignments. We are responding to the needs of our bursary holders who told us they need laptops to succeed in their studies. We are determined to ensure that all our bursary holders complete their studies and return to the help develop the province.”
The provincial administration has invested R320 million in bursaries since 2009. The bursary covers tuition fees, accommodation and stationery.
“Almost every town of the province has been touched. Black and white learners have benefited from our bursary scheme,” Premier Magashule said.
The Free State government bursary scheme focuses on scarce skills in fields such as civil engineering, electrical engineering, chartered accountancy, agricultural science, medicine, veterinary sciences, environmental science, information and communication technology and Mathematics.
Twenty five students are targeted for each of these fields. After completing their studies, these students will work at municipalities that are in dire need of skilled personnel.
“We are investing in the future. We believe the decisions we take today will have a huge effect for generations to come. Our only condition for this full bursary is that once these students have graduated, they must work in the Free State for the period equivalent to their years of studies,” Premier Magashule said.
Addressing bursary holders in Bloemfontein, he encouraged them to study hard so that they can acquire skills needed to support the province’s service delivery strategy, Operation Hlasela, which aims to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment in the Free State.
Premier Magashule said the provincial government would ensure that more funds become available to award bursaries to deserving students.
Members of the Free State Executive Council, regularly interact with bursary holders to monitor their progress. In September last year, members of the Free State Executive Council led by the Premier, visited bursary holders in their respective tertiary institutions through- out the country.
“By awarding these laptops we are effectively combating computer illiteracy, poverty, unemployment and social exclusion by providing disadvantaged students an opportunity to access quality education,” he said.
Magashule said the provincial government’s aim is not only to support students, but also for students to support their families and plough back to their communities. Bursary holders are chosen based on their grade 12 marks and their family backgrounds.
After receiving their laptops, bursary holders promised to make sure that they excel in their studies.
Education MEC Tata Makgoe gave a congratulatory message and encouraged students to dedicate their time to their studies. “This came at the right time for students. They will now be able to write assignments in the comfort of their rooms and no longer have to queue to use computers in the computer lab.” The Department of Education is administering the bursaries.