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In a bid to attract young people to the healthcare profession, the KwaZulu-Natal department of health has set aside about R46million as university fees for youths from poor backgrounds.
Thousands of matriculants whose parents cannot afford to pay university fees will benefit from the bursary scheme.
The initiative is part of the department's efforts to persuade young people, especially those in the rural areas, to study scarce skills such as clinical engineering, radiography and emergency services.
On completion of their studies they will be deployed in their communities.
More than 600 students from poor backgrounds from all 11 districts of the province have already benefited and more matriculants interested in healthcare services are encouraged to apply for the bursary.
"We hope we will be able to help young people from poor backgrounds to get access to tertiary education and to serve their communities afterwards," health MEC Peggy Nkonyeni said.
Students who have completed their matric and those who will complete it at the end of the year can apply to the department for the bursary.
This includes those already enrolled in tertiary institutions and studying towards a health-related qualification but who are struggling financially,