Building roads through bursaries

Helping others ends up as helping yourself, could be a way to describe what the country’s road agency does in the field of education. Roads – education? Indeed, SANRAL needs engineers, so does South Africa. The agency has stepped in to assist with full bursaries, but also internships. So, in this way SANRAL helps itself but also the country.

Mercy Masia

One such full bursary is enabling Mercy Masia to pursue her dream of becoming a civil engineer.

The senior student at Wits University says she thoroughly enjoys the workshops arranged by SANRAL that provide her with the practical insight and experience required for her future career path.

For Mercy, the biggest challenge facing her as a student is to ensure all her work is done in time. Although she enjoys recreational reading in her spare time, she often reads her textbooks for the upcoming semester during the holidays, so that she can get ahead and be prepared.

Thus, her advice to anyone who wants to follow her path is to “use every minute”. She emphasises that it is very important to do as much as possible, and that time must never be wasted if it can be used in a constructive manner.

The combination of hard work and using all available opportunities, abilities and resources, will hopefully lead Mercy to establish a successful career as an engineer. Her ultimate goal is to gain international experience and explore other cultures and work opportunities in the global environment.

SANRAL provides internships to engineering students at various tertiary institutions in South Africa to equip them with practical work experience as required by the degree curriculum. This programme is implemented in cooperation with contractors and consultants working with SANRAL.

In the 2014/2015 financial year, 217 students received internships and vacation jobs from SANRAL – the equivalent of 74% of the staff complement. In terms of a performance agreement between SANRAL and the Minister of Transport, the number of internships offered should be equal to 10% of the staff complement.

However, because of the high demand for practical experience within engineering fields, SANRAL has exceeded this requirement and now offers internship opportunities equivalent to 74% of the agency’s staff complement.

Sesethu Tywabi

Sesethu Tywabi was offered an internship by SANRAL while studying for her National Diploma in Civil Engineering at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

This was a most enriching experience for the young assistant resident engineer who hails from Umtata in the Eastern Cape. During the one year internship, she was placed with two major companies working on SANRAL construction projects on the N7, N1 and N12 roads.
You quickly gain experience in all aspects of road construction, she recalls.

“Your studies at university provide you with a solid theoretical background, but it is only when you are on the site of a construction project that you fully understand how this is implemented in practice.

Your knowledge is broadened by working with so many experienced engineers on projects and it provides you with a great start to your own future career.”

Sesethu says she is very grateful towards SANRAL for giving her the internship. The knowledge gained while working on projects also translated to her studies and enabled her to achieve distinctions in a number of subjects when she returned to the university.

“This experience helped to make up my mind to continue pursuing a career in transportation engineering.”

To find out more about our bursary programme, click here.