SITFE collage 2


The Sugar Industry Trust Fund for Education (SITFE) was launched in 1965 as a private sector initiative and is regarded as one of the oldest Trust Funds in South Africa. The mission of SITFE is to support, promote and advance sustainable, quality education in South African sugarcane growing areas.
In its 53-years history, SITFE has provided bursaries to over 10 200 students, financed school building projects, provided financial assistance to tertiary institutions and has worked closely with educational organisations to improve the overall education standard in the sugarcane growing provinces, namely KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.


SITFE supports a wide range of programmes ranging from the school support programme; study assistance programme; in-whole school support programme; early childhood development programme; and an education centre development programme.


The aim of the programme is to provide expert tuition for an academic year in order to give these carefully selected learners the opportunity to upgrade their Matric results in maths, science, technology, and finance-related fields subjects and gain sufficient points to study at tertiary level.


The study assistance programme continues to enjoy significant industry and external stakeholder support and recognition. This programme is regarded as the sugar industry’s flagship programme and key mechanism to assist government to redress inequalities in the field of science, agriculture and engineering. The objective of the programme is to increase the number of high potential learners from disadvantaged backgrounds with access to quality education and training
SITFE is proud to include amongst its alumni a number of South Africa’s prominent leaders including Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Bonginkosi “Blade” Nzimande; Judge President of the Western Cape, John Hlophe and KZN MEC of Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo. Treasurer-General of the ANC, Dr Zweli Mkhize and his wife Dr May Mashego also received assistance from SITFE for their high school education.


This programme is committed to empowering talented but disadvantaged youth with optimal scientific, mathematical, technological, engineering and life skills to access and succeed in STEM based careers. The programme also focuses on teacher development for mathematics and science at the FET level (Grades 10 to 12).


This programme focuses on ensuring that young children between the ages of 0 and 5 years, have access to quality, sustainable early childhood education and care so that they can develop to their full educational and personal potential.


The centre’s focus is to creative fervor and high aspirations in talented young people, to ignite their intellectual growth, to develop their critical thinking skills, to challenge them through traditional and experimental strategies, to instill in them a sense of citizenship and to positively influence the larger educational community. These fully equipped centres and laboratories will improve access to science resources for disadvantaged teachers and learners.

South Africa, the 1960’s: A country abundant in natural resources, with a vibrant population, yet marred by racial inequality and oppression. Power rested in the hands of the elite, the ruling National Party, who through “Grand Apartheid” violently segregated the non-white majority. During this time Prime Minister Verwoerd made his infamous statement that Africans could only ever be “hewers of wood and drawers of water”. It was this volatile climate that drove key business partners within the Sugar Industry to take action and courageously challenge the status quo of the apartheid regime.


1945 – 1960s


Following the end of World War II, South Africa entered four decades of history that became infamously known the world-over. Under Afrikaner minority rule, the governing National Party established a system of racial segregation and inequality throughout the country, enforced by government legislation…


South Africa declares itself a Republic and leaves the Commonwealth

Mandela heads the ANC’s new military wing, which launches a sabotage campaign against the apartheid government. Seventy black demonstrators are killed in a peaceful protest at Sharpeville. The ANC is banned. The extension of the University Education Amendment Act bans Black students from attending White universities…


A Seed is Planted

SITFE began in 1965, with a seed capital amount of R2.4 million. From the start of its journey, the Trust focused primarily on providing financial support and resources for disadvantaged students, whose families could not afford to send them to school or university. In particular, interventions for children of the Industry’s resource pool remained at its heart, as well as teaching the teachers who would directly impact these young people…


Pioneers of Growth

In the 1970s, SITFE’s focus broadened to include rural communities who had little or no access to formal schooling, as well as the training of the large pool of unskilled labour involved in the Sugar Industry. An initiative was launched in 1973, to promote SASA’s developing cane-growing members in rural and peri-urban areas. The…


Pioneers of Growth

As South Africa struggled its way into the 1980s, the Sugar Industry and SITFE continued with their mandate of pioneering development and change. Bursaries for Black students had increased to R60 000 per year, and R150 000 was sponsored towards a tertiary…


Deepening Roots

As South Africa entered the decade that would witness the birth of its democracy, SITFE marked an investment of R1,4 million in helping students realise their potential. The following year, the Trust involved itself in a number of community projects, with the building of schools…

Late 1990s

Deepening Roots

In 1995, SITFE supported the Natal Schools Project, which was responsible for building 35 classrooms in 12 different rural schools in KwaZulu-Natal. This initiative also saw the construction of administration blocks, school halls and ablution facilities for these schools. 1995 also saw the launch of the Equity Project, a programme supported…

The 2000s

New Growth

As South Africa entered the new millennium, SITFE began to focus on broadening its initiatives and its overall impact on education in the country. The Bursary Programme, now more than 30 years old, had grown to accommodate four different types of bursary schemes, including Teacher Training, University, Agricultural College, and Skills Development. SITFE continued to maintain this project as a key focus, providing…


Focus on Education

Although the programmes of the past four decades had all been of great significance, as SITFE entered its forty-fifth year, it was felt that its focus had become too diverse, minimising the overall impact of the Trust’s efforts. Much had changed in South Africa since SITFE’s inception, leading the Trust to re-evaluate their initiatives, focus and future…


Marking our 50th Anniversary

The Sugar Industry Trust Fund for Education (SITFE) recently formally celebrated its fiftieth year of existence by hosting a glittering black tie event at Durban’s Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre. Attendees included representatives of the South African sugar industry, SITFE and its supporters, and provincial government, and also previous and current beneficiaries of the SITFE. The previous beneficiaries include Judge President John Hlophe of the Western Cape Division of the High Court, businesswoman and former KwaZulu-Natal First Lay, Dr May Mashego-Mkhize, and Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande. Since its inception, SITFE has provided bursaries to approximately 10 000 children of farmworkers in SA’s sugarcane growing sector, and financed school building projects, among its various activities. KwaZulu-Natal’s Premier, Senzo Mchunu, said that the contribution that the SITFE had made towards the provision of quality education for these children was “immeasurable”.