DEC 98] COVENTRY UNIVERSITY PRESS RELEASE
Universities Win £6m From European Union
The European Union has granted £6 million (8.2 million ECU) to the
universities of Coventry, Greenwich and Limerick, working with four of their counterparts
in South Africa, to fund an innovative project developing new businesses and encouraging
entrepreneurs in the country.
The grant, part of the Technical and Business Education in
South Africa (TABEISA) project, was announced at a launch in Technikon Northern Gauteng,
near Pretoria, on Monday, 7 December. The EU Ambassador to South Africa, the Irish
Ambassador and five Vice-Chancellors were present.
Welcoming the award, Cyril Ramaphosa, Chancellor of
Technikon Northern Gauteng, and a leading figure in the ANC, said:
"It is an honour to be associated with job creators
rather than job seekers. The injection of such a huge amount of money will increase
economic and business activity among formerly disadvantaged groups in line with the needs
of South Africa."
Glenys Kinnock MEP, who helped secure the funding for the
"It is often not understood that post-apartheid South
Africa has enormous needs. The TABEISA Project represents a marvellous partnership between
the universities of Coventry, Greenwich and Limerick and the institutions in South Africa.
"The project targets the needs of the most
disadvantaged people in the townships and will make a positive and unique contribution to
South Africa's security and prosperity. I am delighted that between us we have secured the
funding and that the European Union will be able to demonstrate in a very practical way
our commitment to South Africa."
Academics in Europe and South Africa will share their
skills across continents, helping introduce entrepreneurship onto the curriculum of many
students in South Africa. One of the challenges is to work with South African tutors to
develop courses, textbooks and learningmaterials that are educationally and culturally
relevant. The programme will also include training for higher education staff in South
Africa to develop and use their own materials.
One aim of the initiative is to encourage a greater sense
of entrepreneurship and business awareness, so that students have the skills to set up
their own enterprises on graduation.
"South Africa has a massive need for economic and
social development in its poorest townships",
says Coventry University's Dr Jane Conlon, TABEISA
"This really is a tremendously exciting project that
will genuinely change the lives of many South Africans for the better by creating economic
growth and jobs in their own local communities."
The TABEISA project was established in 1995 when the
universities of Greenwich and Coventry teamed up with four South African technikons, which
are the equivalent of former polytechnics in the UK: ML Sultan, Durban; Peninsula, Cape
Town; Northern Gauteng, near Pretoria; and Eastern Cape, Butterworth. TABEISA's aim is to
improve the education of black students who were segregated under South Africa's apartheid
regime and to foster economic and social development within its black communities.
The new funding will help start-up new businesses and offer
support as they grow and develop. At each of the four technikons, new Technology
Enterprise Centres (TECs) will link the technikons, businesses and the community. They
will provide facilities such as fax, telephone, computing and printing to help staff and
students to pursue business ideas. Other services will include low-cost business
consultancy, financial support and advice.
An idea for a water purification system, developed by a
chemistry lecturer from one of the technikons, is one of the first business projects to be
considered by TABEISA. It is cheap to produce and environmentally friendly; funding will
enable production to begin.
Another plan is to support the informal taxi companies
which operate widely in South Africa. ML Sultan Technikon has pioneered a scheme under
which accountancy students advise taxi companies, sorting out their accounts to enable
them to interact with the formal economy.
This will be extended with the provision of business
training for taxi owners and a business consultancy service. Professor John Humphreys, Pro
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Greenwich jointly developed the TABEISA initiative
with Jane Conlon.
He explains that the UK institutions are collaborating with
local technikons to share experience of regional and economic regeneration.
"We're learning from the South Africans as well,"
he emphasises. "Access to education, widening participation, vocational learning -
these are all issues that are top of the educational agenda in the UK."
TABEISA has the full support of the South African
government which funded an earlier project though the Foundation for Research Development.
The four technikons are within specially designated areas to encourage commercial and
industrial development and the TECs will supplement existing initiatives established by
the South African Ministry of Trade and Industry. Other areas of TABEISA's work have been
funded by the British Government, through the Department for International Development,
and have received financial support from the British Council, the South African electrical
company, Eskom and the Anglo-American/DeBeers Chairman's Fund.
Cyrrhian Macrae or Floyd Jebson 01203 838352