THOHOYANDOU, LIMPOPO – Nissan South Africa (Nissan SA) today handed over a cheque for R1.3 million to the University of Venda (Univen) to enhance the provision of maths and science programmes which Univen currently offers to schools in the surrounding communities, through its Vuwani Science Resource Centre (Science Centre). The handover was made by Nissan SA's General Manager of Group Corporate Affairs and Communication Pat Senne to Univen's Acting Vice Chancellor Dr Jim Leatt, who presided over today's third and final graduation session of students from the Faculty of Humanities, Management Sciences and Law.  This followed yesterday's conferring of degrees to students from a variety of schools of learning including that of Maths and Sciences from the faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences.

"One of the legacies of apartheid is that many disadvantaged learners, especially in rural areas, are not equipped with proficiency in maths and science subjects, which are necessary for entry into a number of university courses. Not only does this negatively affect job opportunities, but it also impacts on the South African economy, which is already faced with a number of skills shortages. We commend Nissan for recognising the role it can play in assisting government achieve the challenging task of doubling senior certificate higher grade maths and science passes," said Leatt.

In acknowledging Leatt's appreciation, Senne said that Univen had shown vision in recognising the need for pre-University assistance in maths and science subjects through the Science Centre.

"As a key player in the manufacturing sector where knowledge of, or a qualification in, maths and science is necessary to pursue a career in the automotive industry, Nissan SA feels it has a duty to uplift the skills base in these subjects -  not only for the benefit of the automotive industry but for the country as a whole. In this regard we are delighted that our donation will enhance the existing maths and science programme at the Vuwani Science Resource Centre, which will in turn enhance the quality of both university entrants and graduates," said Senne.

The Vuwani Science Resource Centre was opened in 2000 in partnership with the Zenex Foundation and the Department of Science and Technology, which has been involved in the development of science centres around the country for a number of years. Located 50 km from Univen the Science Centre aims to: expose young learners in the surrounding rural areas to the potential of the application of maths and science in their  future studies and in the workplace; to build knowledge and expertise in the use of science and technology; to empower neighbouring rural communities in the application of science and technology in their day-to-day lives; and to support and develop innovative approaches to making science accessible to communities lacking such facilities. The Science Centre serves over 40 secondary schools within a radius of 40 kilometres, most of which have no facilities to carry out science experiments. As a result the majority of learners do not register for science subjects and many avoid mathematics in grades 11 and 12. Learners from these schools are encouraged to attend the Science Centre to make use of its four laboratories – physics, chemistry, biology and computer literacy - to gain practical experience.  It is anticipated that some of the funds donated today will be used to establish a mobile science laboratory to reach many other learners, who do not have the resources to attend the Science Centre.

Nissan SA's presence is already being felt in Limpopo province through a number of Corporate Social Investment (CSI) initiatives, especially in the realm of education. They include, through its Adbag Campaign, the provision of schoolbags made from recycled billboard material to over 4000 learners in the rural reaches of the province. Nissan SA has also made available engines to four Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges in Limpopo province – Capricorn, Mopani South East, Sekhukhune and Vhembe Colleges – to provide experiential training for predominantly previously disadvantaged individuals who are studying motor mechanics in the Engineering Department of their respective institutions.  In support of encouraging much-needed skills in the automotive industry, it is envisaged that the Science Centre's exhibition area will feature engines and related parts with a view to encouraging learners to enter the engineering discipline at Univen. 


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