Investing in skills will reap future dividends

Your editorial on March 27, "Sum of parts makes us whole", makes valid points about skills and education.

Your editorial on March 27, "Sum of parts makes us whole", makes valid points about skills and education.

It is worth considering what the legacy inherited from apartheid was and what is being done to eradicate it.

A South African Institute of Race Relations survey records that in 1992 only 80 Africans graduated with a qualification in engineering. A decade later there were 536, a substantial increase. But the figures remained disappointingly low - 2346 engineers graduated that year.

Reasons include access to funding and high levels of poverty, particularly in African communities. But an equally serious problem is that the condition of many township schools has not improved sufficiently.

In 2003 only 833 Africans obtained A aggregates in matric. Only 3768 passed HG mathematics with an A, B, C, or D symbol. Worse is that 3000 fewer matriculants got a university entrance pass in 2004 than in 1994.

The institute will continue to actively invest in education through its bursary scheme. This makes funding available to promising students from poor families and has been in operation since 1935. A Mr Nelson Mandela once received £120.

In science and engineering 925 Institute-funded students have graduated in the past two decades. This is an important investment in the future.

Frans Cronje, Head of development, South African Institute of Race Relations, Braamfontein

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