The funds have been allocated to boosting Rhodes University’s Nine Tenths Mentoring Programme, towards bursaries for eight students who fall in the “missing middle” category, and to the installation of water tanks at 20 of Rhodes University’s partner pre-schools.
“GBS strongly believes that every child in Makhanda (Grahamstown) should be afforded the opportunity to have a quality education, and that access to a Rhodes University education can positively affect personal and family circumstances,” said Diana Hornby, Director of Rhodes University’s Community Engagement Division. “Which is very much in line with our overall VC’s Education Initiative.”
The bank’s R200 000 investment in the Nine Tenths Mentoring Programme will help ensure deserving disadvantaged matriculants get direct access to Rhodes University and other universities through mentoring.
According to Hornby, Makhanda’s matric pass rate increased from 62% in 2015 to 78% in 2018. “Our Nine Tenths Programme has had a direct influence in this 26% improvement,” she stated.
Last month, eight academically-deserving commerce students, who fall out of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) threshold, were awarded bursaries totalling R200 000 from the bank.
GBS Managing Director Anton Vorster said, “It is no small thing that we are a mutual bank and mutuality means something to us. It means collectively, we have an interest and it is no secret that we have an interest in education. We would like these funds to go to students who reside and were educated in Makhanda.”
On 19 June, the 20 partner pre-schools where the donated water tanks were installed, attended a workshop at Rhodes University, where they were taught how to use a testing kit to ensure water is clean and safe to drink.
“To invest such a large sum into education is incredible for a small bank. GBS’ commitment to education and to the upliftment of Makhanda is a true inspiration,” said Hornby.
Rhodes University is not the only beneficiary of GBS Mutual Bank. Over the years, it has supported other learning initiatives, including GADRA Education, a Makhanda-based NGO.