Published: 2005-07-31

31 July 2005: Yesterday afternoon, CIDA City Campus, South Africa's first virtually free tertiary institution produced its second crop of 167 graduates who were awarded their Bachelor in Business Administration degree. The institution also announced that first lady, Mrs Zanele Mbeki has agreed to be its chancellor.

According to Taddy Blecher, chief executive of the campus, "When we opened our doors in 1999 CIDA was just a new project, an innovative concept. This second graduation marks the transition from an untested, ambitious concept to an effective, proven institution that is now part of the South African educational landscape. Our degree was fully accredited by the Council on Higher Education last year.

"These graduates join an elite group of South Africans who have degrees. A tiny fraction of students who start school, graduate with a degree, making these students' achievement particularly noteworthy. We are also particularly thrilled that Mrs Mbeki has agreed to be our chancellor and welcome the message this signals about the importance of low cost education in building our nation.

"CIDA City Campus is a catalyst for providing more open access to relevant tertiary education as a fundamental driver for wealth creation. These graduates will generate between R800 million and R2 billion in income over the course of their working careers. This is 100 times more than the cost of the investment in their education. There is no finer return on investment than every single rand spent in investing in economically relevant higher education and entrepreneurial opportunity. These earnings will go directly into the hands of historically disadvantaged families."

There are currently 160 CIDA graduates that are already working in full-time jobs.

The students have all entered the economy earning starting salaries generally between R60 000 to R120 000 a year and combined they will earn R15 million in salaries this year.

This is real and meaningful empowerment, literally pulling families out of poverty and into the middle class, thereby creating long term stability and economic democracy.

Most of these graduates are earning in one year what their families have not earned in a lifetime. As a result, many of them are building housing for their families.

Valedictorian Njabulo Shezi achieved a first class pass overall for all his subjects throughout all four years of studies. He commented, "The African continent needs intellectual capacity to solve the enormous problems that it is currently facing. CIDA students empower their communities through various community upliftment projects which are part and parcel of our degree and this is what distinguishes a CIDA graduate from other institution's graduates.

"On behalf of my fellow students, I extend our gratitude to all the sponsors of CIDA City Campus to give young African students an education and a chance to improve our lives and those of our families and communities."

Gift Selematsela (22) graduated today and is now the holder of a CIDA BBA degree. He is also a CIDA ICT Academy SAP graduate.

Gift joined SAP earlier this year as a graduate consultant and is well on his way to becoming a fully-fledged consultant involved in software implementation projects on SAP clients' sites.

According to Gift, "CIDA City Campus and the ICT Academy have taught me to grab every opportunity I get, how to acquire knowledge and have fun while doing that. It taught me how to manage my time effectively, how to present myself in front of a group of people and most importantly, how to be a team player".

CIDA City Campus partners have made these virtually free scholarships available. They include pivotal founding partner Investec, platinum partners FNB, T-Systems, DaimlerChrysler, MTN and the Kellogg Foundation. Partners also include founding partners Puregas and Monitor Company and gold partners BATSA, Dimension Data, BHP Billiton, City of Johannesburg and Grinaker LTA.

If your organisation would be interested in employing a CIDA graduate, or taking a CIDA final-year intern, please call Bonga at Personnel Concept on 011-484-3920, or 083-949-6582.

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