Beyond FMF: Surviving on Social Grants

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 of which this speaks.
Through this six-part series The Daily Vox hopes to reprioritise these voices.
The Daily Vox interviewed people from across the country who are struggling for higher education funding, some of whom survive on basic grants and pensions for their needs.

Thulani Bewana

Thulani is from the Eastern Cape and lives with his mother, who is ill and survives on government grants. He is passionate about maths and science and wants to study Chemical Engineering at CPUT. He’s been accepted at CPUT but can’t afford the deposit. If he receives funding to study, he will be the second person in his family to obtain a university degree.

Olwenkosi Simthatha Khafu

Olwenkosi has wanted to study Retail Business Management at CPUT since she matriculated in 2015. She is planning on starting second year but can’t afford the R49, 000 in fees. After applying for NSFAS, she has been kept waiting for a response since May 2016. Her mother is a single parent and has struggled to find a job since 2015, and the family lives on her grandparent’s pension money.

Sariel Mokgobu

Sariel lives with his five family members who all depend of his father’s pension of R18, 000 a year. He wants to study a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) at UNISA, where he was accepted. However, he can’t afford the fees of R13, 020, or the registration fee. He wants to enter the corporate world and help young people succeed.

READ ALSO: All you need to know about NSFAS for 2017


Reporting by Mohammed Jameel Abdulla and Mishka Wazar 
If you have a story to share about NSFAS or student funding, please get in touch with us.