| Inside the high
walls of the beautiful campus of the University of Witswatersrand
in the heart of Johannesburg, South Africa, the scene is
much the same as at any campus the world over: groups of
students rushing around purposefully, some chatting animatedly,
others sitting quietly under a tree, reading a book. We
meet up with four of them, all recipients of a special scholarship
awarded by the Tata Group and are impressed with their cheery
outlook on life and the determination to succeed.
The eldest of nine siblings, Thandi Dladla, 23, grew
up in the crime-infested and poverty-stricken town of
Alexandra, near Johannesburg. With an iron will, Dladla
finished school and went on to study further at Johannesburg.
Today, she is a role model for her seven brothers and
one sister. Babyi Olivia, 26, from a similar background
in Rustenberg, also struggled to get to Johannesburg,
aspiring for a better future for her sisters and mother,
through further studies.
For Olivia and Dladla and eight other students of Witswatersrand
University, dreams are on their way to becoming reality,
thanks to scholarships awarded by Tata Africa Holdings,
under the Tata Scholarships Programme. Today, Olivia has
completed her masters in nursing and is ready to work
in the government department of health. And Dladla has
completed a course in industrial psychology and is doing
an internship at MultiChoice, a company which operates
the satellite television service. The Tata scholarship
covered their university fees, hostel / accommodation
expenses and expenditure on books and research work. This
was a huge relief because the university financial aid
covered only the course fees and they had to supplement
their income by working part time, leaving little time
and energy for studies.
The Tata scholarship was an enormous help,
acknowledges Eliphas Nolou, I could buy books and
a computer with the money. Since the computer labs are
always full, having my own computer really helped me to
keep up with my work and not fall behind the class.
Nolou, 31, is a student of economic science who hopes
to make a career in investment banking. After getting
the scholarship, he was able to give up his part-time
job as a security guard and concentrate on his studies.
Evans Netshivhanbe, 24, is equally grateful for the scholarship.
He says he didnt know where the money would come
from when he applied for a course in digital arts at the
university. Receiving the scholarship, he says, was a
huge relief: I wasnt stressed anymore. I didnt
need to work and could focus on my studies. He is
in the process of completing his research papers and all
ready to venture into web designing.
These ten students took the first step forward and the
Tata Scholarships Programme gave them the boost they needed
to reach their goal. The Tata Scholarships Programme aims
at disadvantaged students who have proven their potential
to excel in their respective disciplines. The selection
of scholars is done by the university on the basis of
criteria set down by the company.
To give back to society has been the Tata way of doing
business and the institution of these scholarships marks
the initial steps in the Groups corporate social
responsibility programme in South Africa. The Group is
committed to the cause of higher education and development
of skills in diverse areas. In its second year, the scholarship
programme will be extended to more students and universities.
A small step in the area of higher education, the scholarship
programme is really a giant leap in terms of the number
of lives it has changed. It has also set off a multiplier
effect, with these 10 students pledging to spread the
good work further. They have promised to return to their
school and hometown and educate people on the benefits
of education and the opportunities and alternatives available.
The Tata spirit of social commitment has rubbed off on
them and, in their own small ways, they are all giving
back to their community.