You have to grow and adapt, but we have no regrets

City Press published a special report on TVET colleges in collaboration with Africa Check.
City Press published a special report on TVET colleges in collaboration with Africa Check.

Darren Maybe from Ottery in Cape Town and his younger cousin Jaycee were the first in their family to pass matric. Maybe matriculated at Fairmount Secondary School in Grassy Park in 2016.

His biggest dream is to one day serve his community, and being awarded a financial aid bursary to study safety in society at False Bay Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College was a big step in the right direction. Now 22, Maybe is in the second year of his studies. He also serves on the college’s Students’ Representative Council (SRC).

“I was always interested in safety in society, and False Bay TVET was the only institution that offered that,” he says.

“When I applied for the bursary, I was quite anxious because I would not be studying right now if I had not received it. I am so grateful to God for opening that door for me. I was really praying. My younger cousin and I are the only two who have matriculated in my family so far. It is all a big dream come true for me.”

Without the bursary, Maybe’s tuition fees for this year would have been R9 918. His parents would not have been able to pay the fees – his mother is a general worker at Plantation Primary School in Grassy Park and his father is unemployed.

Maybe describes himself as a “busy guy”. During the holiday season, he will earn some cash working as a waiter at Kelvin Grove Club in Newlands.

He is based at False Bay TVET College’s Westlake campus, which is surrounded by trees and has views of Table Mountain.

“So far, I’ve had so many good experiences,” he says. “It was a new environment and I had to adapt, but everyone was open to me, especially on the SRC. It wasn’t so difficult to make friends and even the lecturing staff never have anything bad to say – they are very supportive.”

False Bay TVET College has five campuses in Cape Town where students are taught skills ranging from plumbing and cooking to accounting and yacht building. At the college’s Muizenberg headquarters, the entrance hall is lined with flyers outlining different courses, and plenty of pamphlets detailing how students can apply for financial aid are available.

The college’s marketing officer, Roshin Schmidt, says 11 416 students enrolled at the college this year.

Lwandisa Msengana is in her second year of studying finance, economics and accounting at the college’s Khayelitsha campus. The 29-year-old is also part of the SRC. After failing matric at Vaal Reefs Technical High School in Orkney, North West, in 2009, Msengana became a money market clerk at Shoprite in Klerksdorp. Then, after moving to Cape Town, she worked as a cashier at a Spar in Kraaifontein. In 2016, she decided to resume her education and joined the college last year.

“After resigning at Spar, I knew I wanted to study. Working in retail got me interested in business, so I decided on accounting. False Bay College was a great option because the Khayelitsha campus is 10km from our house and I could take the bus. Plus, for the course I wanted to do, I did not need matric,” she says.

When I entered that gate, I realised I was going to be happy here. The lecturers really help us to better ourselves.
Lwandisa Msengana

For Msengana, money was also a problem as only her father, a policeman, has a job. Fortunately, she also qualified for a financial aid bursary, which covers her three-year course.

“I am interested in bookkeeping, and one day I would love to be an internal auditor,” says Msengana.

“At home, I am now the financial adviser and I am managing my own finances very well.”

The college’s Khayelitsha campus has a learning centre with computers where students can check email and print documents. The campus also provides students with meals.

“We are all from different backgrounds,” Msengana says. “Some students don’t have access to food, so there is a feeding scheme. The college supplies a breakfast of porridge before classes start at 8am. And also lunch every day – fish or veggies; things to stimulate our brains.”

She describes her campus as welcoming and friendly.

“My campus is the biggest and it is very welcoming. When I entered that gate, I realised I was going to be happy here. The lecturers really help us to better ourselves. There are also student support officers who help us to select the right courses, as well as occupational therapists for students with learning disabilities.”

For required practical experience, Msengana shadowed staff at the Baphumelele Children’s Home in Khayelitsha last year.

When asked if False Bay TVET College is worth its fees, Msengana says: “Yes it is worth the money, even if I was paying for myself. Maybe you were a drop-out, sitting around at home … here, they give you an opportunity to train; to follow your goals. We have a lot of matric drop-outs in this country who feel they cannot go to college, but they can – no matter their age.”

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