“One of our basic responsibilities, as the private sector, is to support the educational systems that the government has put in place and we have to ensure that we are making an impact,” Thandi Orleyn, Chairperson of Petroleum Company BP South Africa told CNBC Africa on Monday.
Using the example of government’s announcement of a huge infrastructure programme, Orleyn noted that there will be a great demand for skills in engineering, financial services and project management.
Corporations, therefore, need to assist with developing the youth for these jobs or there will be no one skilled enough to carry out these government initiatives.
For that reason, BP recently donated 105 million rand towards the Targeting Talent/ Talent Development Programme (TTP/ TDP), which was launched in 2007 as a pre-university enrichment programme in partnership with the Goldman Sachs Foundation and Telkom foundation and administered by the Student Equity and Talent Management Unit at Wits.
The Programme aims to increase the academic, social and psychological preparation of academically talented learners from disadvantaged backgrounds to access higher education opportunities. In other words, to help pupils bridge the gap between high school and university.
BP’s investment will enable 900 gifted grade 10 to 12 pupils from rural areas in Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga to join the programme from now until 2018.
Orleyn said that the reason behind BP’s donation is that the company wants to focus on transformation in South Africa.
“Transformation, in my opinion, is making sure things happen. The government has put the framework in place in terms of policies, now it is up to the private sector and civil society to work with government to ensure that those frameworks are implemented effectively”, said Orleyn.
She noted that BP has decided to fund the TDP programme for another six years as they believe that it has been making an impact on the youth.
“We have seen the results. Some of the top students in South Africa are on this programme. We plucked these kids from rural areas and they are now able to stand on their own alongside other kids who come from more privileged homes,” exclaimed Orleyn.
She concluded that it is critical for disadvantaged kids to be given this opportunity, to ensure that they do not feel like ducks out of water when they get to university.