Nineteen-year old Brenny Maruma could not hide her happiness. Reason being, she is one of the 10 young South Africans who have received scholarships to study for a scarce-skills qualifications at the University of Belgrade in Serbia.
Located in the centre of the Balkan Peninsula, in south-eastern Europe, the country boasts beautiful mountains, national parks, rivers and lakes. The international roads and railway lines, which run through the country, form the shortest link between Western Europe and the Middle East.
Maruma and nine other youths had in mid-October jetted off to Serbia to begin their studies in different disciplines including medicine, engineering, and accounting.
The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and the Serbian Embassy jointly hosted a farewell ceremony for the students.
“I come from Limpopo, one of the most rural areas in the country, so I am extremely grateful for an opportunity to pursue my dream of being a doctor. Thanks to the NYDA and the Serbian Embassy, I will definitely work hard and do my best,” Brenny said.
The scholarship opportunity is a result of a bilateral agreement between the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Serbia and will further strengthen the cooperation agreements between the two countries in the area of education and youth development.
The group of South African youths is the largest group of foreign students who will be studying in Serbia as other countries had only been given between three and five spaces.
The objective of the project is to empower previously disadvantaged youth through giving them access to quality education thereby contributing to the country’s skills development efforts.
The young people will spend their first year studying the Serbian language. Thereafter, they will concentrate on studying for some of the following qualifications: Medicine, BCom Accounting, Engineering, Education and Sports Management.
Before leaving for Serbia, the students completed an orientation programme, which included career guidance, life skills and advice on how to cope with the new cultural environment.
The 10 students were recruited through the NYDA’s Jobs and Opportunities Seekers Database, as well as the NYDA’s 144 countrywide branches, career centres at universities, further education and training colleges and through an advert on the NYDA website.
Speaking at the farewell ceremony, the Serbian Ambassador Goran Vujicic explained that last year five young South Africans benefited from the Serbian scholarship opportunity. “We are pleased that through our engagements we were able to extend the opportunity to 10 young South Africans in 2011,” Vujicic said,
NYDA Chief Executive Officer Steven Ngubeni urged the young people to take full advantage of the opportunity.
“The qualifications that you will be studying fall into the scarce skills category within the South African economy. We wish you all the best and would like you to succeed so that you can come back and contribute towards the South African economy,” remarked Ngubeni.