An unsung struggle hero’s fight for equal education was partly realised this week when 20 pupils from previously disadvantaged schools around Nelson Mandela Bay were awarded bursaries for university study.
In a first for the Raymond Uren Educational Trust, the 20 candidates were given funding with an average value of R50 000 to go towards their first year of study.
During an event held at the East Cape Training Centre late on Tuesday and attended by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) vice-chancellor Professor Derrick Swartz, the elated pupils and their parents accepted the bursary offers.
The trust is a Port Elizabeth Land Restitution and Housing Association (Pelrha) initiative.
Association secretary Clive Felix said: “It is the first of its legacy projects.
“Other projects include the development of a sports complex in Fairview, community projects and a yet to be identified project for Salisbury Park.”
The bursaries cover registration and tuition fees, and make allowance for books and transport for candidates who will study at NMMU.
The trust has an agreement with the university to administer the bursaries for candidates who have registered there.
“The trust has an investment fund managed by Barclays-Absa bank and only the annual interest generated will be used for capital growth, bursaries and for the operating costs.
“[Its] focus will be to assist first-year students.
“It is hoped through donations and other funding streams the capital base of the fund can be grown to keep abreast of inflation or better it,” explained Felix.
The scheme targets 39 schools in the northern areas and those in other previously disadvantaged Port Elizabeth neighbourhoods.
“[This is where] the majority of land claimants were relocated to. These schools play a significant role in the scheme as they are required to recommend candidates to the trust.”
He said this reduced administration costs and streamlined the process.
“The schools have played their role and nominated excellent candidates for the bursaries,” Felix said.
It has been seen as fitting that the late Raymond Uren was being honoured in this way.
He was an all-round activist, who had a heart for sports development and education.
Uren once served on the Cricket South Africa board and provincial cricket administration. His activism for non-racialism in sport and contribution to education were recognised by NMMU in 2011 when it awarded him an honorary doctorate in education.
“Raymond was also chairman of both the PE Land and Community Restoration Association and Pelrha and served until his death three years ago,” Felix said.
– Xolisa Phillip