Rural mayor keeps pupil’s dream alive

2011-11-05 18:05

Matriculant Nobukhosi Zulu (18) is the youngest of three sisters and hopes to be the first in her family to get a tertiary education next year.

One of her elder sisters has a matric certificate, but that’s all there is to it because the family cannot afford to send her to university.

Nobukhosi’s mother is unemployed and the family survives on their sickly father’s pension grant.

The family hails from Impendle, a rural area in the uMgungundlovu area, where there is little development for the sprawling villages of about 40 000 inhabitants.

This week, Nobukhosi’s dream started to become a reality when she submitted her application for admission to various institutions across KwaZulu-Natal.

The plight of the Zulu family is not uncommon among the residents of the rural Impendle Municipality.

Unless their parents are teachers or nurses, children in this area have resigned themselves to the fact that they are only as good as the matric certificate they hold.

Says Nobukhosi, who dreams of becoming a chemical engineer: “There is only about two or three people I know from my area who have gone to university.

It’s because of the lack of money.”

This week Nobukhosi sacrificed a day of studying for the exams so she could take a trip to the local municipality to submit her application. The council was paying the required R160 for matriculants to send their applications to various institutions.

This is an initiative of Sizwe Ndlela, the mayor of Impendle.

Beside the R160 per application, Ndlela has pushed for the council to approve a budget of R300 000 to assist matriculants accepted at tertiary institutions with registration fees next year.

“For some, R160 might be nothing, but not in this part of the world,” Ndlela says.

“I was motivated by the fact that outsiders come to work in this area for experience, only to leave because we can’t afford to pay them a competitive salary. We end up losing scarce skills.”

He says the aim is to change the perception that the people from Impendle are uneducated.

“For me, the backbone of development is education.

“If you educate a person, the first person they will think of is their mother at home. It is a long-term investment because fewer families will depend on grants.

“The effects may not be felt immediately, but those people won’t depend on the municipality for jobs.

“They will be the ones who come to open businesses to develop the area,” says Ndlela.

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