As South Africans prepare to celebrate Freedom Day on 27 April, and reflect on the gains and challenges of post-apartheid South Africa, the country’s oldest and largest public bus operator will be celebrating the month of emancipation with 23 students who have been awarded partial financial assistance by the PUTCO Foundation to further their tertiary education.
“To borrow from President Nelson Mandela’s words, “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. We have always been passionate about education at PUTCO and given the rising inequalities in society as well as the high costs of obtaining an education today, which places one in a better environment to change their own circumstances and communities, we are thankful that the PUTCO Foundation has dug deep and found means to enable these young, talented and bright minds to obtain more from life. It is a privilege to see the impact of what happens when we pull together,” says Franco Pisapia, PUTCO’s Managing Director.
The 23 students, who all obtained their grade 12 certificates last year, but could not register for further studies at various tertiary institutions in the country due to financial challenges, hail from Gauteng and Mpumalanga – PUTCO’s two largest operating areas. The total value of the bursaries is R600 000 and each student has been given R26 000.00 which was directly deposited into the students accounts of the relevant institutions. Preference has been given to students in the technical fields like Mechanical, Industrial and Electrical Engineering. Accounting, Computer Science & Mathematics as well as Biological Sciences have also been considered.
Moshoni Setausi (19) from Dieplsoot has been accepted at the University of Pretoria’s mechanical engineering faculty, while Mike Ramaila, a Soweto resident from Orlando West, has already commenced his journey to being a scientist. Ramaila has already registered and commenced his studies in Computer Science & Mathematics at Wits University. Both Setausi and Ramaila acquired outstanding results last year and are grateful to the PUTCO Foundation.
“I was not expecting a call from PUTCO offering me an opportunity to further my studies earlier this year. I was shocked because I did not approach the bus company for sponsorship. They received my details from the Gauteng Department of Education. All I can say is that PUTCO has touched my heart, and I now have a different view of this company because through them I will be educated. One day I will pay it forward”, says Ramaila.
The students were selected from a database provided by the Departments of Basic Education in Mpumalanga and Gauteng. Twelve students are from Gauteng while 11 are from Mpumalanga.
PUTCO’s Chairperson Dr. Anna Mokgokong, said: “This year marks 71 years of PUTCO’s existence. The company is embedded in various communities around the country and these 23 deserving students have been the best gift to the PUTCO family on this historic month for us. Education equates to freedom, and our message to the students is to make this month the best Freedom Month of your lives. Remind yourselves of the oath you made to your families; to be educated, liberated, empowered, socially responsible and be exemplary leaders in your respective communities. I wish the learners nothing but the best, and I look forward to seeing them lead our country in the coming years.”
Since its inception in 1982 the PUTCO Foundation has provided bursaries to students at Medunsa, the Tshwane University of Technology, the Vaal University of Technology, the University of Johannesburg and the University of Pretoria. The Foundation has also sponsored the Star Schools project, which has helped thousands of students through the years. Every year, The Company also works with youth artisans through the Putco Training Academy, which produces diesel and mechanical engineers among other trades.