By Luyanda Makapela
The University of Venda?s (Univen) is on a campaign to raise R1 billion, in order to position itself as the centre of tertiary education for rural and regional development in the country.
Speaking at the opening of the campaign , Univen Chancellor and businessman Cyril Ramaphosa said the purpose of the campaign was to help the university reach its strategic goals as it was one of the most underprivileged institutions in the country.
"Our aim is to erect teaching, research and student residential buildings and to enhance the capability of teaching staff through endowed chairs in key areas while upgrading teaching and research equipment,' Mr Ramaphosa said.
Academic and administrative resources are stretched well beyond capacity, said Mr Ramaphosa and overcrowding is negatively affecting the campus.
"It is in this regard that we are appealing to anyone who can help us reach our mandated goals to assist the institution in raising this R1 billion rand,' he said.
This campaign is not just about money, but it is also about investing in the education of the youth which are future leaders in business, government, non profit and education sectors.
"This university is the hope for the future of our country. We endeavor the community, government and businesspeople to walk these miles with us and join hands with collective effort to build houses for these desperate students,' Mr Ramaphosa said.
Bold steps have been taken by the Department of Education to provide funding for the refurbishment of certain campus facilities.
In 2005 the department funded R400 million to ensure that the university was placed on the map of becoming a comprehensive university.
He said the curriculum was adapted to include 27 percent relatively diverse academic programmes and 73 percent career focused programmes.
University?s Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr John Leatt said although they were still faced with some challenges, the department had come to the institution?s rescue to address the problems.
".the department had allocated more than 400 million [in 2005] to address some of our burning issues and continuing with the support, I have no doubt that the university will reach greater heights,' Dr Leatt said.
He said it was through this campaign that the Univen wanted to establish a substantial funding of 20 percent by 2010.
The campaign is the first major project of the University of Venda Foundation, a public relations, marketing and fundraising arm of the university chaired by Johnnic Communications Chairperson Mashudu Ramano.