The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has written off R2,4 million in debt owed to it by students in the School of Education.The announcement was made by Professor Thabo Msibi, head of the School of Education, on Facebook.Msibi said the initiative would enable Bachelor of Education (BEd) and Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) graduates sitting at home unemployed due to withheld qualifications to get their certificates and find employment.UKZN spokesperson Ashton Bodrick said about 236 unfunded students had their debt written off.Bodrick said the school had secured a once-off external grant of R5 million. A further R2,4 million from the grant would be used to assist unfunded students.He said top performing and financially deserving undergraduate and post-graduate students receive scholarships from the university on an annual basis.“An open application process was followed for unfunded students in both these programmes. Funding was sought externally to support students who did not receive any financial aid as well as students with historical debt in the School of Education. The university continues to support academically sound and financially deserving students through millions of rand in bursary support,” he said.Samkelisiwe Ndlovu, one of the students who benefitted from the bursary fund, said she was shocked when she received a text message from the university alerting her that her debt had been cleared. Ndlovu, who acquired a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) in 2016, had an outstanding debt of about R17 000.“I thought the message was a hoax. I was a bit skeptical and went straight to the finance department to ascertain if there was any truth in the message I had received. I was ecstatic when the finance officer gave me the clearance letter and told me to collect my certificate in Durban.”The unemployed Ndlovu had been struggling to get employment without her certificate. “You get rejected because most employers want the original certificate and not a letter stating that you’ve completed your degree. Other schools don’t even consider your application and getting a certificate from the South African Council of Educators without your qualification is also difficult.”Ndlovu said she hoped that with her certificate in hand, she would now be able to secure employment.Zamanguni Mzimela, who also did her PGCE at UKZN’s Edgewood campus in 2017, said she also thought the message she received was a scam.Mzimela had over R19 000 in debt paid off.