The national roads agency attributes its numerous accomplishments to the fact that it attracts and nurtures high-performing individuals. The people at the heart of its activities enable SANRAL to create, maintain and oversee the country largest single public asset – its road network.
SANRAL's biggest asset is its human capital, and this it places at the centre of all it does. By putting its support for maths and science education at the forefront of its development activities, SANRAL is creating a pipeline for the crop of future engineers, doctors and scientists who will provide a scarce resource for South Africa and one day, maybe, for SANRAL itself. This is done through SANRAL making investments in education, research and the youth, to ensure a better future for all.
While investing in education, in partnership with the University of the Free State (UFS) and Nelson Mandela University (NMU), SANRAL supports the training of future maths and science teachers, offers weekly sessions on campus to selected learners to increase their abilities in physical science and offers a Family Maths and Science programme at primary schools. The latter programme is aimed at learners in Grades 3 and 4 and involves teachers and parents in a three-year programme.
By fostering a conduit of talent, SANRAL operates on the leading edge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) development in South Africa. Due to the unfortunate under-performance of maths and science education in the country, SANRAL has felt the need to step forward in a more influential manner. The recognition that suitable tuition in conducive environments is concentrated in more privileged communities has resulted in premium, high-quality education in maths and science being inaccessible to the majority of underprivileged learners.
To invest in research and remain at the vanguard of global trends in engineering, the national roads agency has established close partnerships with institutions of higher learning. SANRAL sponsors a Chair in Pavement Engineering at the University of Stellenbosch and a Chair in Transport Planning at the University of Cape Town. Through a five-year endowment of R30m, SANRAL also contributes to a Chair in Science, Mathematics and Technology Education at the University of the Free State.
As an investment in the youth, SANRAL offers scholarships to deserving learners in Grades 10-12 who are proficient in mathematics, physical science and English. Many of these students are later supported with bursaries for their tertiary studies.
Additionally, through its bursary programme, SANRAL is creating a slew of multi-talented students who contribute to skills development and fill the scarce skills gap created by both the brain drain and inadequate education and educators. In the past year alone, 122 aspiring engineers and scientists, including 14 postgraduate students, received bursaries from the agency. By partnering with consultants and contractors working on SANRAL projects, many of these students are offered internships through which they gain practical experience prior to graduation.
This will empower students and build capacity in academic fields critical to SANRAL's ability to provide world-class infrastructure that contributes to economic growth.
By looking to the future, SANRAL started investing in the youth and in educational institutions 20 years ago - this investment is paying dividends which benefit and will continue to benefit all of South Africa for many years to come.