Johannesburg – Top matriculants from Gauteng schools were showered with R296 million worth of bursaries to further their studies by Gauteng Premier David Makhura on Thursday.
Accompanied by Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, Premier Makhura handed over cheques as part of bursaries sponsored by the Gauteng City Region Academy, an initiative of the provincial government.
These bursaries cover the costs of education, accommodation and monthly needs for the learners. In attendance at the ceremony, held at Turbine Hall in the Johannesburg CBD, were the ecstatic learners, accompanied by their parents.
MEC Panyaza Lesufi said as much as they were proud to invest millions of rands on bursaries, he was saddened by learners who misused this opportunity.
Education department statistics show that nearly 26% of learners that previously benefitted from this bursary had failed at university, something MEC Lesufi wants to put a stop to.
“Almost 26% of bursary [beneficiaries] failed, students did not complete school, some failed their subjects. We are proud to invest huge amounts to bursaries and education, but we need learners to pass,” MEC Lesufi said.
Since 2009, the Gauteng tertiary education bursary has benefitted 12 000 learners. At the moment, 4000 learners are being supported.
A total of R800 million has been spent by the government to ensure learners get education, to train students for different professions and to help unemployed youth.
Premier Makhura said this was the largest number of students awarded bursaries this year, noting that a sizeable majority of them hailed from township schools.
“In 2017 alone we have 2 800 children getting to varsity. It’s the largest intake of bursaries … We do this because we want them to become young professionals, to help build the South African dream,” he said.
The Premier told learners and their parents that while university provides more freedom, they have to make the best of the chance they have been given because passing regularly was the only way to keep being funded by the provincial government.
“I am giving you a warning, university is different. At school there was always someone who checked your work, even your parents helped. At university, you are on your own, you can use that freedom for good or to bring yourself down. We want you to pass. The government wants you to pass first year, if you don’t [the Gauteng government] will not fund your repeat year.”
Premier Makhura said protests should not be used as an excuse for not writing exams.
“No excuses will be taken for not writing exams. The only thing we will ask you this year is ‘did you pass or not’?”
He urged parents to encourage their kids to work hard at university.
“Parents, we are doing a lot to help our young kids. We are investing in programmes to give them a better living. Any country not investing in the youth is heading for disaster as a nation. We are not doing them a favour…encourage them to work hard,” he said. –