Students’ babies a burden and a motivator

2019-04-10 06:00
Seluleko Ngcobo was awarded his master’s degree cum laude during UKZN graduations this week.

Seluleko Ngcobo was awarded his master’s degree cum laude during UKZN graduations this week.

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STUDENTS who have had unplanned children are using as much as 60% of their financial aid allowances as child support.

That is one finding in a master’s research by UKZN student Seluleko Ngcobo, who also found that students in this situation feared they would not be able to study postgraduate degrees because of a need to work as soon as possible to support the child.

Ngcobo graduated cum laude this week for his research, for which he carried out in-depth interviews with 20 students — 10 male, 10 female — who had an unplanned child at an early age.

“I found that they had difficulty with being both a child and a parent at home, and I found that sometimes their parents overruled their lives and decisions made for their child.”

He said: “Students in this situation would like to study further and get married, but they feel they cannot do so because they need to work to support the child.

They also feel they won’t find a partner because having a child makes their life complicated.”

Ngcobo said, however, that these students saw having a child as an added motivator when it came to achieving their goals.

“Even though they’ve made this mistake, they now feel that they’re studying for the child.

They say ‘I will not socialise or go drinking because I am working for the child’.”

He added that the research showed that good support structures could allow young parents to raise children properly.

Education analyst Professor Kobus Maree said the problem of teenagers and young adults having children was so serious it warranted a national indaba.

“How can [a student] realise their potential when their child has needs. It’s very clearly a problem but society’s response to this is woefully inadequate.”

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