In­debted stu­dent achiev­ers refuse to give up

CityPress - - News - POLOKO TAU poloko.tau@city­press.co.za

“Does hard work re­ally pay? I am be­gin­ning to doubt it. Why else am I strug­gling this much?” asked Oa­geng Mocumi, who scored eight dis­tinc­tions out of 11 mod­ules in his first BCom year at North West Univer­sity’s Mafikeng Cam­pus.

Out­side the stu­dents’ rep­re­sen­ta­tive coun­cil (SRC) pres­i­dent’s of­fice, he speaks of the R57 000 he still owes the univer­sity from last year. It’s a lot of debt for a 22-year-old.

“Go­ing back home is not an op­tion,” said Mocumi, from Ku­ru­man in the North­ern Cape.

“I am go­ing to camp out here on cam­pus un­til some­thing pos­i­tive comes through. I could not im­me­di­ately go to univer­sity af­ter Grade 12, and spent a year at home while my fam­ily put to­gether money to en­able me to reg­is­ter.

“Af­ter all that, I am not pre­pared to go back home with­out a de­gree. All I need is a chance to study.

“I can work twice as hard, com­plete my stud­ies in record time and re­pay any money at a later stage.

“I just don’t want to go back home and be­come a use­less

If you were min­is­ter of higher education and train­ing, how would you go about en­sur­ing that aca­dem­i­cally de­serv­ing stu­dents got to con­tinue

with their stud­ies?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word VAR­SITY and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name.

SMSes cost R1.50 bur­den for my al­ready strug­gling fam­ily.”

Mocumi said his father’s mine worker’s salary was barely able to take care of his par­ents and three younger sib­lings.

Apart from the out­stand­ing R57 000 bal­ance, Mocumi – who ap­plied for Nsfas fund­ing too late and re­ceived no re­sponse – does not have the R7 000 he needs to reg­is­ter for his se­cond year.

Next to Mocumi sat 21-year-old Gabon­thone Rampa from Ma­didi, who scored 10 dis­tinc­tions in the first year of his trans­port eco­nom­ics de­gree. He wants to switch to a BCom de­gree in sta­tis­tics, but is un­sure of be­ing able to do so be­cause he al­ready owes the univer­sity R33 000. He has ap­plied for sev­eral bur­saries but has re­ceived no word.

Mocumi and Rampa cut des­per­ate fig­ures in a crowd of 10 oth­ers. They spoke of how they had worked them­selves to the bone to ob­tain dis­tinc­tions and at­tract bur­saries, but their ef­forts had come to noth­ing.

Rampa re­fuses to lose hope. His mother, an ad­min­is­tra­tor, is his fam­ily’s only bread­win­ner.

“My mother can­not even af­ford my reg­is­tra­tion fee ... I need to study and take the bur­den off her,” he said.

“I worked hard last year to­wards my 10 dis­tinc­tions, not ex­pect­ing to be sit­ting here with so much stress and headache, but I am not pre­pared to lose hope and aban­don what I started,” he said.

Cam­pus SRC pres­i­dent Benz Mabeng­wane said: “Th­ese two are just a drop in the ocean when look­ing at the num­bers of hard-work­ing and de­serv­ing stu­dents who are at risk of be­ing ex­cluded in the com­ing fi­nan­cial year be­cause their fam­i­lies can­not af­ford their study fees.

“Are we say­ing they must go back home and be wasted there? I don’t think so.”

PHO­TOS: MATHEWS LONKOKILE

NOT GO­ING HOME Oa­geng Mocumi passed with eight dis­tinc­tions in his first year of study but is ham­pered by a lack of funds

HOPE­FUL Gabon­thone Rampa achieved 10 dis­tinc­tions in his first year of study but – like Mocumi – owes the univer­sity thou­sands of rands

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