Feb 2017 1st Edition

Improving lives of learners

Written by Noluthando Motswai
Mbali Shamu, 18, is one of the more than 100 000 girls on social grants who wrote their matric exams. She is seizing the opportunities provided to her to make her life better for herself.

Shamu received seven distinctions and is on her way to be a BSc Actuarial Science student at the University of the Witwatersrand.

This would not have been possible without the support of the Department of Social Development and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) who are ensuring that children on social grants get to further their studies at institutions of higher learning.

Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini said she was particularly pleased with the performance of girl learners.

“I am very pleased to announce that the girl child continues to take all the opportunities given by government. We want to report that 112 409 of the total number of social grant learners who wrote matric were female and they live in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.”

About 188 758 matric learners were social grant beneficiaries.

Shamu was a student at Esokwazi Secondary School in Sebokeng, near Johannesburg, and even though she walked 10 km every day to go to school, she stayed focused on her goal. 

Shamu lives with her grandmother, who is a domestic worker, and her unemployed mother. Their survival is based on the social grant she gets from government.

“I am very grateful for the opportunities provided to me by government. I wish they go further and assist as many children as possible.”

Minister Dlamini said what concerned her the most was that out of the 188 758 learners who were social grant beneficiaries and wrote their matric, only 66 002 were boys.

“We need to be concerned about the boy child and it is time that we pay attention to our boys,” she said.

Thabo Ntsime, 17, on the other hand, also passed his matric and received two distinctions, in geography and life orientation.

Ntsime, from Mohlakeng in Randburgs lost both his parents and was raised by his unemployed grandparents.

“My grandparents have always been the ones who give me all the support, making sure that I had food and clothing even though they were not working.”

Ntsime will be studying Emergency Medical Services at the University of Johannesburg.

Ntsime said Isibindi helped him to cope with the studies and encouraged him to be better.

“They encouraged me to get a better life. I would like to take my grandparents from that poor household to a better life.”

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