Earning a place to study mining engineering at Wits University is a dream come true for many historically disadvantaged students, but it is only the beginning of a long, demanding road that is often made harder by arriving in Johannesburg with no support network.
To ensure that needy and deserving students are not unfairly prejudiced by their circumstances, the School of Mining Engineering raises money from the private sector and other sources; this year, that fund will be boosted by a R70,000 donation from leading blasting specialists BME.
“It is always heartening to see how the School and its alumni have over the years rallied to support students from underprivileged backgrounds, so that they can focus on their studies in a conducive and enabling environment,” said BME marketing manager, Hayley Wayland. “As BME, we value the opportunity to play our role in leveling the educational playing field and ensuring the skills our industry needs.”
The creation of this support facility for selected students – through which funds are made available for basics like meals, transport, text books and reasonable accommodation – has helped address the drop-out rate of students arriving without sufficient resources.
“Our thanks go to the School and all those involved in ensuring that the funds are well-directed,” said Wayland. “Is it is clear that they are making a huge difference to these students’ lives, as a higher proportion now progress to the next year of study – and finally to graduation. That, of course, is the result we all want to see.”
She said that dropping out is not only devastating to the student and their future opportunities, but it represents a failure to build upon the years of educational investment in young people.
“All that effort and investment, which has brought them to the point of university acceptance, is potentially wasted for lack of a supportive living environment,” she said.
BME has therefore supported the School and its students in this way for the past five years.