- Four KwaZulu-Natal teens have been awarded bursaries to study medicine.
- The funding was made available by the province's health department.
- The teens left for the University of Cape Town on Sunday.
A few notes, taken from her pension was the gift a KwaZulu-Natal teenager’s grandmother gave him before her death.
The money was intended for a suitcase, to take 18-year-old Sibahle Ntuli’s clothes and goods to university – even though he had no idea how he was going to fund his studies.
But on Sunday, Ntuli, along with three other teenagers, boarded a plane destined for Cape Town after being awarded a bursary to study medicine at the University of Cape Town (UCT).
Ntuli, along with Thembelihle Tsengane, 18, from Ixopo; Bongeka Sibiya, 17, from Empangeni; and Lwazi Mhlongo, 17, from Port Shepstone, passed matric with top academic marks. However, with no funding to pursue their dreams of attending medical school, the future of the four teenagers looked bleak.
But a bursary from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health has made it possible for the four students to attend classes in Cape Town.
KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu says the department was, “... inundated with a number of requests”, to help the students.
“As a Department of Health, usually, we do have bursaries, but because of Covid-19 in the previous year, it has been very difficult for us to actually put aside the amount for bursaries that we normally do put aside.
"But when you do listen to the stories of these students and their background, you realise that we couldn’t just keep quiet and allow such intelligence not to be assisted... We had to move monies around a little bit so that we are able to fund them,” said Simelane.
Simelane bade the students farewell at the King Shaka International Airport on Sunday afternoon, amid scenes of jubilation, with emotional parents and relatives wishing them well.
Ntuli matriculated from eMhlwaneni High School in Driefontenin, Ladysmith, with distinctions in eight subjects.
His grandmother, who died just a month ago, believed he would be studying medicine, even when Ntuli had doubts. He recalled how his now-late grandmother shelled out a few bank notes from her meagre pension money.
“She said, ‘Take this money and buy yourself a suitcase. You are going to university. Even though I had not received the bursary, and didn’t know how my studies would be financed, she somehow knew that I would be going to UCT,” Ntuli said.
“My grandmother raised me, and we were all saddened when she passed away. Although she had been ill for a while, we did not expect that she would leave us when she did. She may no longer be alive today, but I want to make her and the rest of my family proud.”