In a simple yet historical and meaningful ceremony, the Sime Darby Foundation (SDF), awarded excellence scholarships and bursaries to bright and young Liberians to pursue their tertiary education in Liberia and Malaysia this year.
The foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of the Sime Darby Group, has allocated USD420,000 this year for the scholarships and bursaries which include three scholarships to outstanding Liberian freshmen at selected universities to pursue undergraduate studies at top universities in Malaysia for four years in the fields of civil or mechanical engineering.
Another six scholarships were awarded for undergraduate studies at selected universities in Liberia including the University of Liberia, Cuttington University and Stella Maris Polytechnic in the fields of agriculture and engineering.
11 other students with good academic potential were awarded bursaries to assist them to complete their degree programmes while seven other bursaries will soon be awarded to deserving Liberians to pursue their tertiary education at Liberian universities.
Sime Darby President and Group Chief Executive Dato' Mohd Bakke Salleh, who presented the awards to the students accompanied by their parents, said the scholarships and bursaries marked the beginning of SDF's commitment to help Liberians secure a brighter future via a sound education.
Also present were Sime Darby Plantation managing director Mr Franki Anthony, Head of Sime Darby Plantation (Liberia) Inc Mr AzmiJaafar,SDF Chief Executive Officer Madam Hajja hYatela Zainal Abidin and other senior representatives.
"We are sincere in our efforts to help Liberia rebuild the economy and we believe one of the most valuable assets for any country or company is its human resource. Young people like these are the future leaders of Liberia and Sime Darby hopes to play a role to help nurture these young men and women to succeed not only for a brighter future for themselves but to build a talented workforce for Liberia," Mr Bakke said.
Among the students awarded the scholarships and bursaries include Joel Nelson Atiah, aged 19, a civil engineering freshman at the Stella Maris Polytechnic. Joel, who achieved a 3.5 CGPA is an orphan from Montserrado. He will be commencing his mechanical engineering studies at the National University of Malaysia in February 2013.
Another deserving scholar is Cyrene S.Williams, aged 18, who hails from Montserrado and achieved a Division 2 for the West African Examination Council exam. Cyrene has just enrolled to study agronomy at the University of Liberia. The well rounded teenager, who was raised by a single mother, is active in sports and extracurricular activities. Meanwhile, SDF is also awarding a bursary to Stella Maris Polytechnic civil engineering freshman, Varney A.Kiadii, 20, the eldest among seven children. Barney who hails from Grand Cape Mount County earns a living by farming cocoa, rubber and oil palm to support his studies.
Earlier, Mr Bakke paid a courtesy call on Liberian President Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the Executive Mansion to announce the commencement of the scholarship and bursary awards in Liberia.
Commending the initiative by the foundation, Her Excellency emphasized the importance of education for Liberia's future.
"Education has been a challenge in the past for our young people and Sime Darby's efforts to support education is very good.
"A sound education will prepare them with good skill sets which are required for our nation and capacity building," she added.
The scholarship and bursary programme in Liberia is part of Sime Darby's corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives in countries where Sime Darby operates.
The full scholarship programme covers tuition fees, living expenses and books. For the three scholars to be sent to Malaysia, laptop allowances will also be provided.
SDF will also extend other educational benefits to the scholarship recipients including scholars' development programmes and continuous personal support of the scholars' welfare and academic performance during the tenure of scholarships.
A total of 54 candidates went through a selection process which included psychometric tests and leadership competency assessments before 29 candidates were shortlisted for the final interview.
The fields of study under the scholarships and bursaries are agriculture-related studies, and civil and mechanical engineering as these courses are relevant to Sime Darby's core businesses.
The Sime Darby Group, through the foundation, also awards scholarships and bursaries in other countries, namely Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong and this year commenced its scholarship programmesin Liberia and China.
Sime Darby Foundation
Sime Darby Foundation or YayasanSimeDarby, was established in 1982 and is the primary driver of Sime Darby Berhad's Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.
The objectives of Sime Darby Foundation are supported by its five pillars, namely: community development; education; youth, sports and recreation; arts and culture; conservation of the environment and protection of ecosystems. While led by independent members of a Governing Council and managed by a dedicated team, Sime Darby Foundation works closely with the Sime Darby Group, in areas of mutual interest.
Since its inception, Yayasan Sime Darby has awarded scholarships worth RM150 million to 1,532 students both in and outside Malaysia. It is supporting long term research projects of significant scientific value like the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) project which is the world's largest ecological project, a joint effort with the Royal Society (The UK and Commonwealth Academy of Science). Yayasan Sime Darby is also actively involved in the development and improvement of sports in Malaysia namely lawn bowling, cricket, tennis and golf. Under its community development pillar, Yayasan Sime Darby supports initiatives to promote the well-being of disadvantaged people irrespective of race, culture, religion, creed or gender and works with established organisations to promote the development of arts and culture.
About Sime Darby Plantation
Sime Darby Plantation is one of the world's largest plantation companies, producing some 6% of the global crude palm oil (CPO) output. It operates oil palm plantations in Malaysia, Indonesia and Liberia, and is one of the co-founders of the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a multi stakeholder grouping that oversees the industry. Sime Darby Plantation also has downstream operations across the globe, producing oils & fats for various industries, as well as oleochemicals. It is also present in the consumer goods sector, producing cooking oil and fruit juices, among others.
In 2009, Sime Darby Plantation was granted a 63-year concession by the Government of Liberia to develop 220,000ha of land into oil palm and rubber plantations spread across four counties namely Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, Bong and Gbarpolu. Currently, 3,000 Liberians enjoy full employment and the number is expected to increase to 35,000 when all the areas are fully planted.
Sime Darby Plantation is part of Sime Darby Group, a Malaysia-based diversified multinational involved in key growth sectors, namely plantations, property, motors, industrial equipment, energy & utilities and healthcare. Founded in 1910, its business divisions seek to create positive benefits in the economy, environment and society where it has a presence. It is one of the largest companies on Bursa Malaysia with a market capitalisation of RM57.21bn (USD18.18bn) as of 28 May 2012.With a workforce of over 100,000 employees in over 20 countries, Sime Darby is committed to building a sustainable future for all its stakeholders. This is enshrined in its tagline, "Developing Sustainable Futures".