Desperate to study to escape poverty

2011-01-13 00:00

FOR many teens, tertiary education is a natural transition after high school, but for others, it is more — a desperate bid to escape poverty.

Some of the first year applicants The Witness spoke to said they are orphaned and have no stable income. They view having a certificate that will help them get a good paying job as their road to a brighter future.

Nokulunga Nxele (17) plans to study computer science at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She said she has been accepted by the university and has received funding from the government’s national student fund.

Taking into account her family situation, she said this is one opportunity she can’t mess up.

Nokulunga lives in Ntuzuma near Durban with her aunt. She was orphaned in 2007 when her father died. Her mother died in 1997.

Her mom worked as a domestic worker and had no savings for her and her other siblings when she died.

“It’s been very hard,” the teary-eyed teen told The Witness.

She said her aunt doesn’t work and the seven mouths in her household, including two of her siblings, rely on money generated through tuck shop sales.

Sthembiso Mohapi (18) left her Newcastle home as early as 5.30 am with hopes of moving a step closer to her dream of being a social worker or psychologist. She said this will bring relief to her mother who supports most of the family of nine. However, Mohapi left disappointed after being turned down for not meeting the requirements. While applying through the central applications office, she had learnt that she needed 24 points to gain entry to these courses. However, when she went to the university yesterday she learnt that the bar has been raised to 28 points and above.

Celumusa Khoza (22) came all the way from uMsinga. If he is accepted, he will be the only one out of his family to attend university. He wants to attend UKZN since he believes that it is the best place to fulfil his desire of becoming a teacher.

“I chose teaching because it is quicker to get work with it,” Khoza said honestly. He is the last-born of seven, none of whom work. They all depend on his mother’s pension money.

Talking about his family background, tears well up in his eyes. While Khoza’s parents are both still living, his mother has never worked. His father has two wives and supports two families. He claims his family has been less favoured and battle to make ends meet.

Khoza applied to study at UKZN last year, but did not get a response. He came to check on the status of that application.

Philile Ntsele (17) was more upbeat after writing a university selection test after initially receiving a letter that her application was unsuccessful.

She and four of her older siblings are orphaned and live with their aunt in Ladysmith. Her older brother, who was unemployed, recently enrolled for nursing and her sister is studying teaching.

Should she be successful, she said she will stick with what she came to university for.

“I had to fight harder than most. That is the way it is. I got through high school and I will do everything in my power to stick with what I came here for and not be distracted by other things.”

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