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Bursary initiative to bring skills to town

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“I would really like to take my education a step further and study more, perhaps after working at our local high school for a few years first”

THIRTY-one-year-old Eric Cloete is in his final year of studies through the North West University, qualifying this year with a Bachelor of Education degree and years of experience under his belt. He didn’t expect to study in this field, but realised that he loved teaching during his stint as a teaching assistant.

“I initially studied physics with the goal of becoming a lab assistant, but when someone in my community offered me a job as a mathematics assistant at Kenhardt High School, the same high school that I attended as a teenager, I decided that I was better suited to teaching,” explained Cloete.

Kenhardt High School is a direct beneficiary of Aries Solar Power’s bursary programme, a unique situation in that the programme is solely available for this high school.

The programme was launched to provide the opportunity to local school graduates to gain a tertiary education, with the hope that once qualified these young people will return home to the small town of Kenhardt and plough their skills back into the community.

“This bursary from Aries Solar Power has been so helpful. Not only has it afforded me a tertiary education, but the plant has also assisted me with other expenses. I have to travel to Upington once a week for classes and when I write exams, and the solar plant covers these travel expenses for me. Also, being a distance learner, I use a lot of data and they also cover these costs,” Cloete said.

Lerato Rabopane, science and maths teacher at Kenhardt High School, where Cloete previously worked as an assistant, says: “Eric has a knack for working with children and they respond very well to him and he is always willing to go the extra mile to benefit the pupils. In 2018 he ran extra maths lessons for our matric pupils, even on some Saturdays, and the class achieved an 80% pass rate that year.”

She adds that while working at the school, Cloete excelled in both teaching and administration work, which included his lesson plans that were “always very well thought out and perfectly prepared”.

With this level of praise it is not surprising that he has dreams and ambitions that go beyond achieving his Bachelor of Education degree.

“I would really like to take my education a step further and study more, perhaps after working at our local high school for a few years first,” Cloete added.

“We are so proud of the students and young professionals in our bursary programme that are returning to this town, as it means that Kenhardt will no longer need to recruit specialist skills from other parts of the country,” said Tsholofelo Moote, the economic development practitioner for Aries Solar Power.

Pupils will once again have the opportunity to apply for an Aries Solar Power bursary in October this year and can aspire to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors who are fulfilling their dreams at universities around the country.

Bursary beneficiaries receive tuition fees, travel and accommodation costs, book allowances and even a stipend.

The Aries Solar Power bursary programme, which commenced in October 2016, has already benefited 12 local youths, who are now studying at tertiary institutions including the University of Stellenbosch, University of the Western Cape, University of Pretoria, University of the Free State, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Hugenote College and the University of the North West.