One of our junior journalists from KZN, who was doing her Matric last year, came face to face with the difficulties faced by rural school learners when it comes to transitioning from basic education to higher education. Zinhle Mbanjwa was left frustrated as she tried to get funded by the NSFAS while trying to register with her university of choice. Zinhle, who excelled in her matric results by getting a bachelor’s pass, is currently a hairdresser at a salon in KZN. Her greatest fear was sitting at home after Matric.
She comes from a poor family and has a dream of earning her doctorate one day! She has applied to many universities using their online systems. These online registration systems are complicated and not user-friendly at all.
The University of Pretoria has the most complicated online registration, especially when you have to select what you would like to study. Their options are outdated, and the system uses 2022 dates to determine whether that option is still available or not.
No matter how much colleges are seen as the other option to study, universities are the biggest attraction for learners doing matriculation. Colleges do not form part of the further education system in high schools and the community. When students study, they do so to earn a grade that will allow them to attend university rather than college. For some, college is the second option, which is deemed to hold very little value. It is not only the learners who have this mindset but also society at large. When professors are invited to speak at public events or on media platforms, they are never introduced as professors from a college; they are from a university! It is then hypocritical to expect learners to settle for a college education; be realistic for once!
Then comes the issue of NSFAS.
NSFAS has no desire to help poor learners in South Africa, and if they can get away with financing just a handful of learners, then they will do so with ease. Most learners in Zinhle’s shoes do not have the budget for making copies, emailing, scanning, and going back and forth to town. It is tough; such learners are condemned to survival mode immediately, irrespective of how well they have performed academically.
The current NSFAS and education system are not designed to help poor students excel academically, which needs to be addressed. If this statement is not true, then why don’t we have NSFAS local offices across the country?
Here’s a practical example: for Zinhle to go to town, it costs R30, the return trip is R60, to make copies in the rural areas costs Zinhle R6 a page, and for all the documents required by the NSFAS, she needs budget of R50, then she has to get a parent’s payslip to prove that she cannot afford university fees! In rural areas, what is a payslip? And where do you get it? Then she must scan and email it or upload it onto her NSFAS account; each document costs R20 to scan and email. LOL! There is still a university registration fee that needs to be paid! WTF?
Zinhle eventually reached out to our editor and asked for advice, and our editor suggested that she investigate joining the SA Military as they are recruiting for 2024; the closing date is February 28, 2023. She was excited once again. The TMS Mag editor helped with the entire registration process and submissions, which are now awaiting responses.
Zinhle is still a hairdresser and is soon to write more articles for the magazine.
This story shows how much a black child in 2023 has to go through just to get a sniff at economic opportunity. Systems governed by the black government are strictly anti-black and remain exclusive to the few. It has been more than 28 years since the so-called “democracy” was achieved, yet here we are today. in the doom and gloom of the so-called “New Dawn.”
Black businesspeople, where are you?
You are better versed in the struggle of a black child, but that expensive lifestyle got you blinded; surely you can spare a penny for a “Zinhle” out there! Yes, you may have worked your way to the top; perhaps you did unspeakable things to become the tycoon you are today, but it is never too late to have a heart.
Churches, especially black churches, where are you?
Both black churches and businesses can unite to achieve the following:
- Create a rural learner network in which one person is hired per rural or township school to handle NSFAS, university, and college applications for matriculants. That person must be equipped with all the resources necessary to handle such applications.
- build localized offices that will assist learners with post-school education in all education districts.
Our editor is currently helping another student who is a TMS Mag Journo as well. In his small capacity, he can do so much for his journos. TMS Mag is a free online publication; it does not generate any income, therefore everything must come from our editor’s pockets, which is highly appreciated.
You can do more in your capacity as a black business and church because this affects the entire community and reflects on you as an individual as well.