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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  14 Oct 2008

Education: Nelson Mandela scholarship Alumni

 





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Young leaders from all walks of life throughout South Africa came together at a gala dinner in Gauteng tonight to celebrate 10 years of the prestigious Nelson Mandela Scholarship programme which made it possible for them to study abroad.

For a decade, the Nelson Mandela Scholarships were awarded annually to young South African students of exceptional academic achievement, leadership capacity and the desire to use their knowledge to contribute to society.

The programme established by Unilever South Africa in 1998 has helped 106 previously disadvantaged post-graduates to further their studies in the United Kingdom and has sought to develop leadership of Nelson Mandela's calibre. The scholars who were selected had already demonstrated leadership capacity, be it in politics, business or community work.

Gail Klintworth, Chairman of Unilever South Africa, said with The Mandela Rhodes Foundation's Scholarships now firmly established as a premier programme in Africa for young Africans with leadership potential, Unilever had decided that the 10th anniversary of the Nelson Mandela Scholarship was the right moment to shift its support behind the South African-grown programme.

"For the past 10 years the Nelson Mandela Scholarship has been one of the ways in which we helped to energise the nation.

"We believe the Nelson Mandela Scholarships helped pave the way for the establishment of an African-based programme in Mr Mandela's name, and we are delighted that we will be involved with The Mandela Rhodes Foundation on a number of levels."

Mrs Klintworth said Unilever will endow a Mandela Rhodes Scholarship in perpetuity.

"You will thus see that while no further Nelson Mandela Scholarships will be awarded, each of the present and past recipients will have the honour of carrying the torch forward while forever being able to declare: 'I am a Nelson Mandela Scholar'," said Mrs Klintworth.

"South Africa is a country bursting with potential and great possibility. But, like every other country, it also has its share of problems.

"It is only through powerful, visionary leadership, such as that possessed by you young men and women, that we can be sure to find solutions to these problems and build South Africa into a truly great nation," Mrs Klintworth said.

Ed Hall, former Corporate Affairs Director at Unilever and who managed the Unilever Foundation for Education and Development (South Africa) when the scholarship programme was launched, was guest of honour at the 10th anniversary dinner.

He said soon after South Africa attained democracy, Unilever which was committed to "investing in tomorrow's leaders" began exploring the possibilities of a partnership arrangement for post-graduate South African students to study in the United Kingdom.

These students would sustain the development of sound leadership in various fields - politics, economy, health and medicine, education, community development, social justice, the sciences, and a myriad other disciplines.

The Nelson Mandela Scholarship was conceived when the Unilever received the blessing of world peace icon and one of the best leaders of this century, former President Nelson Mandela, to use his name for the study grant.

Unilever also drew on the support of the Canon Collins Educational Trust to administer the scholarship in the United Kingdom and to facilitate placement, accommodation, support and orientation of the scholarship recipients.

Hall said: "Nelson Mandela marked the emergence of a new kind of African leader, a leader of honour, integrity, resilience and courage who provided such exemplary headship and saint-like greatness through a difficult period in the nation's history."

"Through the scholarships, we aimed to improve the quality of life for South Africans through education and training by helping those from disadvantaged backgrounds to reach their full potential, thereby bringing much-needed skills to the country."

While the Nelson Mandela Scholarships programme has now ended, Unilever has helped with the establishment of the Nelson Mandela Alumni Association as a credible organisation that will extend the legacy of the Nelson Mandela Scholarship.

Pumela Salela, chairperson of the Nelson Mandela Alumni Association, said the 106 Nelson Mandela Scholars, their families as well as their communities were most grateful to Unilever, co-sponsor Deloitte, the Canon Collins Educational Trust Southern Africa, educational institutions in the UK as well as all others who were responsible for keeping the scholarship programme going for 10 years.

She said while the Nelson Mandela Scholars will aspire to take on the mantle of the great South African architect of democracy, the Association will strive to broaden the leadership base of South Africa as well as Africa.

"I am confident that the legacy of leadership displayed by the apostle of peace, our beloved Madiba, will live on through each one of those students who has been fortunate enough to receive the scholarship bearing the great man's name, as well as through the work of the Alumni Association for many decades to come."

 
 
 
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