Beyond FMF: The Self-Funders and Sole Breadwinners

South Africa’s higher education sector has been rocked over the last two years as the Fees Must Fall protests at universities, colleges and technikons have exposed and emphasised the financial struggles of aspiring graduates. But as the political drama between the state, students and university management has entered the fray, attention has been diverted from the core matter at hand – the narrative of everyday people struggling for access to education and the systemic exclusion this speaks of.
Through this six-part series The Daily Vox hopes to reprioritise these voices.
We interviewed people from across the country who are struggling for higher education funding, some of whom are their families’ sole breadwinners or otherwise self-funded.


Lorraine is a 31-year-old general worker who is the sole source of income for her six siblings after their parents passed on – they live off the R2, 800 wages she brings home each month. She wants to study a Bachelor of Education at UNISA in order to ease her family’s financial burden but has been denied NSFAS funding since 2015.


Paulinah is working at an Extended Public Works Programme where she earns R2, 300 a month. She wishes to become a professional psychologist but is unable to afford the fees on her current income, which she also uses to aid her mother and daughter. Paulinah began studying marketing at UNISA but was unable to complete her studies as she was relying on her mother’s social grant to pay for it.


Palesa is a third year BEd student at Wits, and she supports herself working as a promoter and assistant teacher. She earns less than R12, 000 a month and is struggling to afford her fees of R47, 140 for the year. As an aspiring educator and a young woman who would also like to further her studies in law, Palesa wants to help build a society that includes its youth in every aspect, starting through education. She supports the call for free and decolonised education led by the youth activists of this country.
READ ALSO: All you need to know about NSFAS for 2017


Reporting by Mohammed Jameel Abdulla and Mishka Wazar 
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