KwaZulu-Natal south coast pupils who passed their matric exams last year have been set on a pedestal.
Yesterday the provincial Department of Health awarded 11 matriculants with bursaries to study medicine, dentistry, BSc in speech and audio, radiography, and pharmacy, and 25 are expected to enrol for nursing diplomas.
The department said there was a shortage of health professionals in the province and the country. Hundreds of local health professionals were being lured by higher pay packages in overseas countries.
As a consequence, R8 million has been set aside to train, recruit and employ more than 500 health professionals in the near future.
Odwa Sihlobo, 18, who achieved A symbols in his matric exams last year, said he was pleased by the government's moves.
"I will study Actuarial Sciences at the University of Cape Town this year. I am happy that all of us as matriculants won't rot in the streets with no jobs," he said.
"Now it is up to us to make our communities proud."
Neliswa Nkonyeni, provincial MEC for health, said those awarded bursaries would have to serve their communities in about six years' time.
"The reality is that we are living in an era of HIV-Aids, of TB and of other mayhems. Our children should be acknowledged to transform society," she said.
She urged school teachers, principals and education managers to treat the department as a partner.
District mayor Sithembiso Cele said the awarding of the bursaries would help the community.
Cele also paid tribute to teachers and parents "who dedicated their lot".