Top pupils benefit from Gauteng bursary scheme

Tshepo Thamae, Gabisile Makhanya and Bhekumuzi Duma were among students who were awarded bursaries.
Tshepo Thamae, Gabisile Makhanya and Bhekumuzi Duma were among students who were awarded bursaries.

It was hard work and dedication that led to Bhekumuzi Duma becoming one of the top performing pupils of the class of 2019 in Gauteng.

This paid off when the 18-year-old was chosen to be among 2,517 pupils who received bursaries from the province and department of education.

The Gauteng City Region Academy bursary scheme is an initiative by the provincial government to improve access to tertiary education and promote academic excellence.

Duma who attended Botse Botse Secondary School in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria, said it was not easy as he stayed close to a tavern.

"The noise was disturbing but I had to stay focused and concentrate on my books because I knew that it was through my studies that I will give my family a better future.

"Weekends were worse as there would be loud music and noise right through.

"It also helped that I did not feel sorry about my circumstances," he said.

He said the four-year bursary that pays for tuition, registration, accommodation, food and books will help a lot as his parents were not going to afford to pay his university fees. He will study public relations and communication at the University of Johannesburg.

Another happy beneficiary is Tshepo Thamae, 17, who passed grade 12 at Selelekela Secondary School in Orlando East, Soweto. He will study a BCom at Wits University.

"I don't have to describe how excited I am about this bursary. I was raised by my grandmother from the age of 10 years and we survived on government grant. It is high time that I also make her proud," he said.

Gabisile Makhanya, 23, said she was the third born of seven siblings and there was no way her father was going to afford to pay her university fees.

She was a pupil at Sibusisiwe ConTech. She wants to study towards a BA in accounting at Varsity College in the Johannesburg CBD.

"This is a blessing for me, I will be able to study without worrying about what I will eat or how I will buy my books."

Premier David Makhura said 14,000 students had benefited from the bursary programme since it started in 2014.

"Once you are at university, you are on your own and many things will compete for your time. You can easily forget that you are there to get your degree, some people stay longer at universities and they leave without their degrees. It would truly break our heart to stop funding you because you have failed," Makhura said.

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said the pupils who received bursaries came from schools that achieved a 100% matric pass rate. "We have chosen the top three pupils from the township schools and given them four-year bursaries that covers everything. We are very proud of you, please don't disappoint us."

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