AS TOLD TO
At the Durban University of Technology, delayed payments from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) have led to new student protests, as some students have only been registered as late as May. Those clashes have led to the suspension of the student representative council president Sesiyanda Godlimpi. Sandiswa Gambushe, a 21-year-old first year student who is unable to sit in for exams due to being unregistered. She shared her experience with the Daily Vox.
I’m a first year drama student and had applied for NSFAS early last year. My application was approved but when I came to register early this year I was told that my offer had expired. I didn’t understand what all that meant and the lady who was processing my documents didn’t care to explain.
I had to go from one door to another, trying to sort things out but it was all in vain. I was told to appeal which I did but nothing came back from NSFAS’s end. I did a follow up and they admitted having received my appeal but said it hadn’t been processed yet. That was in February. All this while I’m attending classes without being registered, any meal allowances, and res. I’m currently staying in a temporary residence, months later, many of us are still without residence.
The process has been daunting for me because I come from Port Shepstone, which is more than 10 kilometers away from school, and my aunt is unemployed, she has a tuckshop and that’s how she supports us. At some point I had arrived to a conclusion that maybe education is not for me or it’s not my time yet, because of the struggle.
Although I’ve been attending classes throughout the semester, I had many challenges during exam time. Lecturers were unable to assess me due to instructions by the university not to allow unregistered students to sit in for exam. At some point I had to write an exam and not be allocated marks until I register. Some of the exams I’ve had to write without proper preparation and it was really hard. Again, I had to walk in and out of different doors explaining my situation. It was draining because I hardly had time to even study and prepare for exams.
I’m grateful that at the end I was able to register with the help of SRC, they came to our aid but since some of us are semester students, we are still not off the hook. When the next semester begins and we have to register, it will still be a daunting process since we don’t know whether NSFAS will have come through for us at that time.
I’ve been advised that I need to start afresh and re-apply when applications open in August, and if I am unsuccessful; it will mean that I pack my bags and return back home. I will now have a debt of this whole year and won’t have funding for the following year, how will I pay off the debt? I will have no other option but to go back home.
I know it won’t be easy but it’s clear that education is not for everyone in this country. One always has to put in a fight in order to get an education, yet our fights seem to be in vain at times. The price for education is too high than we imagine.
Interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Featured image supplied