Indebted student achievers refuse to give up
“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
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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.”
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