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    Winds of change bolster prospects for province's pupils

    February 2, 2023 - Herald Reporter


      Similiarly to their business model, renewable energy farms are investing in the potential of the Eastern Cape through a multipronged approach in tackling schoolbased challenges, ranging from food to funding.

      The Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm's agricultural bursary programme — developed to address the lack of agricultural skills in the local communities — has awarded two high school pupils from Humansdorp and Patensie respectively with bursaries to attend Marlow Agricultural High School in Cradock.

      Economic development specialist at Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, Tsholofelo Moote, said the bursaries for the two pupils, LeighJean AJay and Solani Luciano Othando, who started grade 8 in January, were all inclusive and covered tuition, accommodation and travel costs.

      "We developed this programme, which aims to address the lack of agricultural skills in our communities, by providing financial support for learners to pursue studies in this field — thereby developing a pipeline of scarce skills," Moote said.

      Since its launch in January 2021, three pupils from communities close to the wind farm, are being supported by this industry, for the duration of their high school careers.

      "We are very excited about this partnership. Luchen Louw, our first bursary recipient who has been at the agri school for a year now, is very happy and is progressing well both academically and personally.

      "We look forward to strengthening our relationship with Marlow Agricultural High School, so that we can help provide a better future for these deserving young students," Moote said.

      Othando's mother Jeanelene Millicent said she hoped her son would use the new found skills and knowledge to plough back into the community and empower other youths from their community.

      "I believe studying agriculture will teach Solani a number of things, and he'll discover that agriculture encompasses much more than just becoming a farmer, as it includes a multiple of disciplines.

      "My hope is for him to become an agriteacher, teaching other farm boys from the community to think beyond the world of agriculture and help them to see the potential for giving back to their community one day," Millicent said.

      Meanwhile, BTE Renewables, no stranger to providing a helping hand, are preparing pupils for the future by improving concentration levels by providing additional lunches for matrics at Lonwabo High School in Bedford.

      The company also established an onsite vegetable garden equipped with a reliable source of water, to help the school become more selfsufficient and supplement the nutrition programme.

      Sustainability director at BTE Renewables, Libby Hirshon, said the programmes fell within their vision of using education to empower the youth and develop the community through sustainable interventions

      "We are pleased to support the [education] department's objectives by coming on board to provide this meal, consisting of vegetables, a starch and a protein for the 48 matric pupils," Hirshon said.

      "The project, for the matric class specifically, started in April 2022, and supports the school's initiative of providing extra classes for matrics, resulting in the grade 12 class having a longer day at school."

      Hirshon said the addition of the vegetable garden was intended to not only provide vegetables for both daily meals, but also to offer employment opportunities for local enterprises. The surplus produce can be sold to families and the surrounding community to create an additional stream of income for the school.

      In partnership with Gift of the Givers, a borehole was drilled and water tanks installed to provide the vegetable garden with a reliable source of water.

      "As a company that is part of the community, it is important to us to ensure that the water for the vegetable garden will also assist the school, as the area is known to have water challenges," Hirshon said.

      Over the past two years the company has tackled challenges at Lonwabo High School, which caters to 420 pupils. This is in line with their 'Just Transition' goals of decent work for all, social inclusion, and the eradication of poverty.



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