President Jacob Zuma has urged all business people to make sure that they support the education of the disadvantaged students by sponsoring their education and giving them employment once they are qualified.

Zuma was addressing thousands of people who converged at Nkandla for the Christmas party organised by the Jacob G Zuma RDP Education Trust.

The annual event is attended by youth, elderly people and graduates who benefited from his trust fund.

Mhlengi Ntenza from Ixopo in southern KwaZulu-Natal is one of the beneficiaries of the J G Zuma Education Trust.

He says the trust assisted him a great deal as he was a herd boy before he could get an opportunity to study. Today, he is a qualified accountant from Rhodes University and is studying towards his masters. He thanks the trust fund for giving him the opportunity.

“I’m here on behalf of other students who benefited from this trust for over twenty years… we are thankful. Secondly what makes me happy is that, when I think about my past I did not think that one day I can graduate, as my life was all about being a herd boy.”

Sandile Manzi from Indwedwe told the gathering that his parents passed away and he was supported by relatives when he received the financial assistance from The Trust. Now, he holds a degree in environmental planning. He says he could not get a job in the field, but is working part-time for Msunduzi municipality as a meter reader.

The President called on more young people to study and stay away from drugs and crime.

He says there is no excuse for people not to pursue tertiary education now as education is free. He says government’s free tertiary education policy ensures that poor students get an opportunity to study.

“We have business people, MECs, Ministers here… they must support these graduates, as many say they are unemployed and some are doing piece jobs. They want internships and I will be very happy if you can support them with employment.”

The trust has educated over 25 000 students from rural areas and It has educated scores from the African continent.