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Apr 25 2012 8:07AM
Education leaves its bursary students out in the cold
WAITING: Some bursary students claim Gauteng education has not kept its promises. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
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Luzuko Pongoma

The highly publicised Gauteng City Region Academy (GCRA) is failing some of its students.

In January, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane and her education MEC Barbara Creecy paraded 1703 successful 2011 matriculants from impoverished and underperforming Gauteng schools as beneficiaries who would share R120m in bursaries for tertiary study nationwide.

However, about 20 University of Johannesburg (UJ) students have now been forced to stop studying and return home because of the government's failure to pay for their accommodation.

A first-year student at the university said that he was left homeless after being locked out of the residence in New Doornfontein.

He said the problem started at the beginning of the year when money for text books was not paid. "At first it was the money for books, which was provided in early March after the university opened on February 6. I failed my first test which I wrote on February 29, which consisted of four chapters which I had to study," said the student who wished to remain anonymous.

The student said that it was not easy to study from more than 200 photocopied pages – the method he used to study before he received his text books.

"Now it's money for accommodation which has not been paid since February," he said.

He said: "The department of education and the provincial government as a whole must scrutinise such issues because many students out – not because they don't have the potential, but because they are affected by such issues both emotionally and academically.

"The idea of this bursary was marvellous, especially in assisting students who are dedicated, but the provision of it is not efficient," he said.

Speaking at the bursary ceremony in January, Creecy reportedly said all the students came from townships, underperforming schools and no-fee paying schools which were sometimes called "a lost generation".

"These young people have travelled a very hard road," said Creecy at the event.

UJ asked to be sent student numbers of the upset students. The New Age took the decision not to comply with the request as, in so doing, the identities of the students would be made public, against their wishes.

The department refused to answer specific questions posed by The New Age, saying that it would deal with the problem. The department of education said they will address the issues of non-payment.

According to Department of Education Gauteng spokesman, Charles Phahlane: "About 20 students did not submit their lease agreements and therefore government could not pay for something which they did not know about.

On the issue of textbooks, the department uses a supplier to provide the students with textbooks and encourages students to use textbooks which are supplied by the department supplier.

The department cannot pay for textbooks outside those supplied by this company".

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