EVEN in death former president Nelson Mandela’s love for education shone through, with more than half a million rand given to schools and universities that helped shape him into the iconic figure he became.
In his will, Mandela left R100000 to each of the educational institutions he had attended in his life, three of which are in the Eastern Cape, for scholarships and bursaries.
But with a number of problems facing some of the schools, the money will most likely be used to pay for teachers in an effort to improve pupils’ results and make the beloved statesman proud.
The University of Fort Hare, Clarkebury Senior Secondary School and Healdtown Comprehensive High School knew the “old man” had a soft spot for them, but did not expect their inclusion in his will.
Mandela, who died in December, also made provision for pupils at his home village of Qunu, whose educational needs he was “particularly concerned” about. Johannesburg’s Wits University and Orlando West High School, in Soweto, where he lived with his second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, were also given a slice of the R46-million pie.
When they were invited last week to the reading of Mandela’s will because they “had been mentioned” in it, none of them suspected they would return with R100000 from “the great man”.
Fort Hare deputy vice-chancellor for institutional support Dr Jabulani Mjwara said the bequest came as a pleasant surprise and other alumni should follow suit.
“We were surprised, but not completely surprised, because Tata was one of our best alumni.
“We are extremely grateful for this gesture and will forever be indebted to him,” he said.
“You can’t question his decision because he has always associated with those in need. We call on all alumni to meet Madiba’s gesture.”
Clarkebury principal Ayanda Matshayana said Mandela was schooled there for two years from 1934 before heading off to Healdtown. “This is such a heartwarming gesture from the old man.
“We are very happy and feel privileged to be at the receiving end of this. We knew he loved our school, but not this much. This makes us really happy.”
Healdtown Comprehensive High School principal Mzingisi Douw said he was extremely grateful to Mandela and his family.
“He is no longer here with us, yet he is thinking about us. That makes us very happy and proud,” he said.
“The great man has always been passionate about education and for him to think about us in his final years is huge.”
Healdtown, which was the cream of the school crop for Africans in its heyday, is a shadow of its former glory. Douw said the no-fee school, which achieved an 81.8% matric pass rate last year, was situated in a very poor area and riddled with problems relating to books and stationery, pupil transport and the feeding scheme.
“While I can’t make a unilateral decision as I need to involve the governing body, I would like to see the money go towards the betterment of the school in many ways,” he said.
“A lot of our pupils walk long distances to get to school and are hungry. Since the scholar transport switched from the control of the Education Department to Transport, our applications [for transport] have yielded nothing.
“So use of the money will speak to pupils’ needs.”
Matshayana said he hoped to use the money to ensure every pupil had a teacher in front of them to maintain and even improve on their 90% matric pass rate.
He said the school was meant to have 21 teachers according to this year’s post establishment, but had only 13. ” My … wish is to pay teachers to fill the shortage so that we make Madiba proud with improved results.”