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Grim stories behind fees struggle

The political drama between the state, students and university management over fees has diverted attention from the core matter — the stories of people’s everyday struggle for education.

The higher education sector has been rocked over the past two years by the #FeesMustFall protests at universities, colleges and technikons, over the financial struggles of aspiring graduates.

Here are the stories of six young people who need funding to study. Some are their families’ sole breadwinners or are otherwise self-funded. Their stories are likely resonate with thousands of others.

Lorraine Nomthandazo Ndawonde (31)

Home: Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal

Annual family income: R67 200

Matriculated: 2003

Wants to study: Bachelor of education at Unisa

Deposit owed: Unknown

Fees for 2017: R8 000

Family with higher education: 0

I am so stressed and confused. I don’t know what to do or who to ask for help. I need to study and complete my degree.

I am working as a general worker earning R2 800 a month and paying R1 500 in rent. I am trying to study a BEd at Unisa and I’ve applied for assistance from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) since 2015, but they haven’t responded.

I am the sole breadwinner, both mother and father to my six siblings. They are suffering so much, everything is so difficult for them.

My younger sister couldn’t finish matric because she had to start working after we lost our parents. I couldn’t afford the fees of previous years, so I took out bank loans and I’m paying debit orders every week.

I just want to make life better for my family by studying and working.

Paulinah Mabiletsa (22)

Home: Makgabetlwane, North West

Annual family income: R27 600

Matriculated: 2013

Wants to study: Bachelor of arts, majoring in psychology

Deposit owed: R1 470

Fees for 2017: R14 550

Family with higher education: 0

I really want to be a professional psychologist and help people affected by abuse, crime and poverty.

I want to study for a BA psychology, but I earn R2 300 a month at the Extended Public Works Programme and can’t afford the fees.

I live with my mother and daughter; my father died in 2005. I am loyal, honest and patient and I love to work and communicate with people. I studied marketing at Unisa in 2013 with my mother’s pension grant, but I couldn’t finish because of the money.

Shafeeqa Petersen (22)

Home: Roshnee, Gauteng

Annual family income: R144 000

Matriculated: 2012

Wants to study: Bachelor of law (LLB)

Deposit owed: R2 480

Fees for 2017: R29 000

Family with higher education: 1

Law has been my passion since school and that is one of the influential motivators for me to study. Studying is key as it will help me gain knowledge, skills and eventually a job that I can be good at.

Another huge motivator is the struggle my family faces financially because my mother is the only breadwinner. I wish to complete my studies to improve our way of life and make it easier on her behalf. All these factors helped me graduate with a BA with a law major in 2015.

In 2016, I had hoped that I could find a suitable job with that degree but unfortunately I have received no word back from any of the jobs I applied for. I now plan on completing my studies by doing an LLB. I plan on becoming an attorney, which will enable me to take the path of entertainment or media law, or the path of notarial practice and conveyancing.

I will be studying LLB at Unisa. For the completion of my LLB, it will be R7 405 for this semester and the same for the next semester. So in total the tuition fee would be just under R15 000. If you add textbooks to this, it’s R4 000 for the year and an additional R9 600 for transport. This means my total costs for the year amount to about R29 000.

Unfortunately, of the R12 000 my mother earns a month, about R6 700 goes to debt counselling.

Palesa Mofokeng

Home: Protea Glen, Gauteng

Annual family income: R144 000

Matriculated: 2014

Wants to study: Bachelor of education

Deposit owed: R9 340

Fees for 2017: R37 800

Family with higher education: 0

I am a third-year bachelor of education student at the University of the Witwatersrand.

I work part-time as a promoter and I am an assistant teacher at a school called Arthur Matthews Primary School, with an income of less than R144 000 a year.

As an aspiring educator who wants to further her studies within the law field, I am aware of social issues that affect the youth of the country. We need a society and a world that includes its youth in every aspect, which happens through education.

The call for free and decolonised education puts us in a position to spread a conscious understanding that we disrupt and challenge the status quo. In the words of Nelson Mandela: “As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.”

I believe in innovation and revolution as vehicles for change and the higher education ministry, along with its financial aid scheme, are not heeding this. The call for free and decolonised education in further learning institutions should be constitutionalised with full commitment.

Makhubele Mkateko Errol (19)

Home: Giyani, Limpopo

Annual family income: R17 520

Matriculated: 2016

Wants to study: Marketing management at Central Johannesburg College

Deposit owed: R500

Fees for 2017: R22 000

Family with higher education: 0

I want to study marketing management at Central Johannesburg College.

I’ve finished matric at Hawuka High School and I am passionate about sales. I like socialising and playing football with friends and I hope to achieve my dream of creating job opportunities for others.

My household income is R1 460 a month, which comes from a social grant. I want to know if NSFAS will accept me so I can reduce my family’s poverty.

Tidimalo Mogotsi (18)

Home: Soweto, Gauteng

Annual family income: R24 000

Matriculated: 2016

Wants to study: Bachelor of commerce at the University of the Witwatersrand

Deposit owed: R9 340

Fees for 2017: R44 910 to R46 810

Family with higher education: 0

I like to do things on my own, to go my own way, to make my own path. I finished matric last year at Fidelitas Comprehensive School.

I was recently accepted for a BComm at the University of the Witwatersrand. Having the privilege to be offered a bursary or funding will give me the head start I need to advance my career in accounting and change the situation at home.

I live in a household of eight people. I was raised by my mother, who is a single parent and is not employed; it’s been difficult to find a job. My aunt is the only person who works — at a nearby crèche where she earns R2 000 a month.

We face financial constraints and often fail to meet basic needs such as food. My father is estranged from the family and doesn’t contribute to the family finances.

It isn’t possible for us to pay for the fees ourselves. I want to buy my mother a house and to make sure my family is well taken care of. — thedailyvox.co.za

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