SOUTH AFRICA: A BETTER COUNTRY FOR ALL
By: Sanelisiwe Mangxaba
We live in a better South Africa- one where black South Africans are free to voice their opinions through freedom of expression and have access to a better education.
Nonhlanhla Majola who works at St Aidens Hospital gave insight on how she understands the change in opportunities for the younger generation after 1994.
“After the 1994 elections, I went to an English speaking school which I feel gave me the advantage to understand things better when I went to University because I went to an Afrikaans University,” said Dr Majola.
Majola says South Africa really is alive with possibilities. Today the country has more educated people across all racial groups. More black people are educated and hold prominent positions in society. According to Majola the only limit is your academic potential. The government has done a lot to make sure that every person gets a chance to attend higher institutions of learning.
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is the primary tool that aims to fulfil that mandate by ensuring access for poor students to attend tertiary institutions. It has assisted over 1.4 million students. The budget of NSFAS has increased from R3.1 billion in 2009 to R9 billion in 2014. It will however, only assist 430 000 students this year from FETs to Universities, meaning not every student in need of financial assistance will be able to fulfill their dreams of being educated.
Slindile Manqele who is a former University of KwaZulu-Natal student said that she recommends the financial assistance but doesn’t fully support its inconsistency towards the less fortunate students like her, who manage to obtain impressive marks but get no assistance.
“NSFAS has been of great help to me during my first year but this year I had to face the trauma of not having funding for my education,” said Manqele.
During apartheid people of colour had little or no access to education. Although a pseudo-education was offered it could never compare to the current system. There were not enough schools and pupils had to walk long distances to get to school which further limited their access.
According to Khethokwakhe Msongelwa, a resident of Chatsworth, “Universities were only for people who were from wealthy families which is why I am not educated today and there are those who got the chance to be educated and made something of themselves even in those difficult situations. Unfortunately I wasn’t one of them.”
There are still remnants of the past. Victims of uninformed and unfortunate circumstances, those who are not educated as a result of their parents not being educated due to the apartheid system. Despite all the challenges encountered, people are equipping themselves with education and are moving South Africa forward with innovative research funds and financial assistance programs available.