Here’s how SA’s brightest youngsters fall through the cracks

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Here’s how SA’s brightest youngsters fall through the cracks

When a medical student matriculated from a poor high school, his story made headlines. Now he may not even graduate

Columnist

For Andile Dube,* a fourth-year medical student, the end is in sight. Two years from now he should graduate as a doctor from Stellenbosch University. Except that might not happen. He has no money to continue his studies. His remarkable story offers insights into how talented students sometimes fall through the cracks because no one is paying attention.

When the young Andile graduated from a poor, rural high school in Bergville, his story made headlines around the country – and for good reason. What township kid pleads with his school to take more subjects only to matriculate boasting nine distinctions with the added ability to play 11 musical instruments? In the excitement of the moment, the promises of funding came from everywhere, including the local municipality and other do-gooders. Few of those offers materialised, and even fewer stayed the course. Mr Harvey was one of the few consistent funders, but even he left for overseas for a while, leaving a gap in Andile’s funding. The university added the usual merit bursary contribution, but the costs of a year at medical stretches north of R140,000.

Meanwhile, things at home start to deteriorate badly. His father abandoned the family. His mother became heavily indebted and, he suspects, was blacklisted because they could not raise the loans to support his study. At the time he first applied for NSFAS, the government’s generous funding scheme for students, he missed the cut-off for inclusion because his parents were earning reasonably well. Now all of that has changed as the family fortunes dived...

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