UKZN Foundation’s Engagement with PPS Foundation Trust
The Professional Provident Society of South Africa (PPS) Foundation visited the UKZN Foundation to extend their collaboration with UKZN through bursaries for Medical students.
The meeting - hosted at UKZN Foundation’s quarters - was organised by Mr Tebelo Kokoropo, UKZN Foundation Donor Relations Manager.
Mr Steve Camp, UKZN Foundation acting Executive Director, welcomed guests and attendees, stating that the ‘UKZN Foundation worked closely with donors to source strategic funding for the University.’
UKZN Foundation is the formal fundraising arm of the University and sources funds primarily for bursaries, as well as infrastructure projects and the various Colleges. He also indicated that 70% of funding goes towards supporting student bursaries. ‘We try to make a difference working with funders by joining the dots, our working cause and interest is to try and look for ways to facilitate that and translate it to make a difference at a place like UKZN,’ said Camp.
PPS Foundation was established in 2016 essentially to improve access to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields for students. The Foundation also contributes to the sustainable development of South African communities. Mrs Subashni Gounder, Corporate Social Investment Senior Manager Head of the PPS Foundation Trust, thanked UKZN for its warm welcome. ‘This is how serious we are about developing a strong meaningful relationship with a highly reputable university like UKZN, we definitely see ourselves moving forward and building a stronger relationship as our ultimate objective is education,’ she said.
Ms Masenyane Molefe, PPS Group Executive Trustee and Group Executive: HR, held a brief presentation about the organisation (PPS Group) which has been around for 81 years, and formed a Foundation in 2016. ‘The challenges of this country are far too many to be left to the government alone, so this is our way as a corporate citizen to say we are going to play a part as well’, said Molefe.
The Foundation runs five supporting programmes, including the Bursary Programme and University Support Programme which fostered the Foundation’s engagement arm. ‘The PPS bursary is a fully holistic bursary that covers students with tuition fees, resident accommodation, books, meals and laptops,’ said Molefe, adding that the Foundation also provides infrastructure support to universities in accordance with students benefits, as well as student’s assistance outside the academic provision.
Commenting on the community relationship from a PPS perspective, Mr Nereshen Pillay said: ‘If I were to ask my colleagues to put up their hands probably all of us are alumni of UKZN, so the bond between the PPS and UKZN stems from our days as students’. He further stated, ‘PPS is a mutual company in South Africa and has a good relationship with UKZN, we must get more out of this, we must build stronger relationships and open up more facilities.’
Mr Pierre Coetzee, Graduate Marketing Specialist, said one of the Foundation’s expenditure strategies is to reach students physically and through sponsorships, targeting all eligible groups and future members of PPS. ‘The Scrub Project is a yearly project we roll out across universities in South Africa. We sponsor sixth-year Medical students, giving them scrubs at year-end functions’, he said, adding that the Foundation also teaches eligible final-year students about good financial habits.
Camp thanked PPS for its support, saying, ‘We work with a lot of donors and companies and very few have the level of support for students like PPS. It is all about building relationships and trying to make a difference as we all here feeling passionate in various forms trying to make a difference in our country and its through donors like yourself that make a huge significance’.
Professor Suvira Ramlall from UKZN’s Psychiatry Discipline and College of Psychiatrists (CMSA) President spoke on the gap between education and social development. ‘I really believe in holistic development and am very passionate about quality education. When we speak on education, we need to move beyond that narrow definition of education where you just collect degrees,’ she said. She spoke on the importance of holistic education and development, saying people have degrees and titles but remain impoverished which leads to vulnerability in the form of anxiety and stress. She also pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic taught us interconnection in terms of partnerships and relationships. ‘We really appreciate these partnerships and it’s really about the interconnectedness of us as a society.
‘I am so glad you (PPS) have shifted beyond just giving handouts. I feel very strongly about culture, we have to be able to support people in a more meaningful way that also fosters their growth,’ she said.
She thanked PPS on behalf of the Medical School as major beneficiaries are Medical students. ‘We are very passionate about the way things are done. We look forward to continuing partnerships and relationships not only for us as UKZN, but our country as a whole’.
Dr Saloschini Pillay, Health Science College Student Support Service Manager, also expressed her gratitude to PPS for its support. ‘PPS supported us with the exit orientation, we are the only College of UKZN that holds an exit orientation. The College has been hosting the exit orientation since 2012, a one-day function where we wish students well and prepare them for the world of work and give tips and strategies’, she said. The College plans to have a series of development workshops for professionals entering the world of work using the collaboration with PPS.
Words: Zama Khoza
Photograph: Albert Hirasen