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WSG students awarded prestigious bursaries


PhD student, Ross Jennings was awarded the PV Thobias Educational Bursary while Andile Mbhele is a recipient of the Borlaug Fellowship Program award.

The PV Thobias Educational Bursary courtesy of the late Professor Phillip Tobias is available to all students irrespective of the field of study.

Jennings’ research brings together two areas of focus that he has been involved in, one way or another, for the past 25 years and these are poverty and voting behaviour.

“In essence, I am trying to provide a robust measure of poverty at a low geographic level in order to investigate whether the poor are relatively more disengaged from mainstream politics than the non-poor,” said Jennings.

He said he is ultimately looking to see if voting behaviour can be modelled to explore what the motivations are behind people registering to vote, voting in a particular election and their choice of a political party. Jennings added that it will also be important to see if the poor are disengaging, as this will not be a good sign for South Africa’s young democracy.

Jennings is still collecting data and added that doing a PHD is a huge lesson in patience and perseverance. He said he extremely honoured and humbled by this award. “I must thank my supervisor, Professor David Everatt, for his continued support and encouragement.”

Meanwhile, Mbhele, a recipient of the Borlaug Fellowship Program award, is doing a second Master’s Degree. She is pursuing a Masters of Management: Public Policy and is focusing on agricultural trade policies, looking at smallholder farmers’ transformation since 1994.

“I chose this path because agriculture has been identified as one of the drivers of the economy in South Africa, so development and transformation are quite vital in the sector,” said Mbhele.

The Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program promote food security and economic growth by providing training and collaborative research opportunities to fellows from developing and middle-income countries.

Mbhele currently works as a Chief Agricultural Food and Quarantine Technician at the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries.

“I am a highly experienced and qualified agricultural ecological health and plant quarantine expert, technical advisor and trainer with a strong pedigree in agricultural crop, food safety, plant health and protection and agricultural management. I possess a good understanding and practical appreciation for entomology, plant breeding, horticulture, livestock and agriculture management,” said Mbhele.