My name is Kananelo am 29 years old and I live in QwaQwa. As an Activist and a Youth Capital Campaigner, I am committed to placing our stories at the centre of the discourse on youth unemployment. In September, I spoke to the M&G and BBC Africa about my challenges in finding a job.
I currently hold a bachelor degree in politics and sociology. I didn’t receive any career guidance while in school and after matriculating in 2010, I studied biomedical technology at Vaal University of Technology (VUT). Throughout my time at VUT, I was self-funded. My mother, a single parent of two, works for the municipality and we were led to believe that government employees’ children do not qualify for National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding.
Having determined that biomedical technology was not a field I would excel in post-qualification, I moved on to study towards a bachelor in politics and sociology at Nelson Mandela University. By then, former president Jacob Zuma had declared free education and I believed I could further my studies and be funded, but this was unfortunately not the case; NSFAS only funded for my first year at Nelson Mandela University (NMU).
I learned this when I was set to receive my second-year exam results, and I was informed that my funding had been revoked due to the N+2 rule. The N+2 rule states that a student shall be funded by NSFAS for the total number of years of their selected course plus two years. This puzzled me, as I was only funded my first year in NMU. Further queries led me to learn that NSFAS had redefined the rule to include all individuals who had been in school for the set years +1 more year, now named the N+1 rule.
I appealed to NSFAS, and I was once again accepted, except during my last year when my funding was once again revoked because of the same rule. Fortunately, I received my allowances and accommodation acceptance throughout my two years. I do, however, have a large debt that I owe the institution. With this debt, I cannot obtain my official certificates, and employers don’t accept a statement of result.
I form part of the “not in education, employment or training (Neet)” group. I feel stagnant, I feel like I have invested a lot of my time and resources in an education in which I’m not getting my return on investment. I have limited to no resources to help actualise my dreams, be it capital to start a business or simply money to secure employment. I currently stay in a rural area that is underdeveloped, and my opportunities are immensely limited.
I could consider a move to a city, but I also don’t have the resources such as first-month rent deposit, food and transport money; that’s if I’ll even secure money to get to the city in the first place. I mostly find myself demotivated and exasperated. That’s on good days. On bad days I feel helpless. I have over the months watched my self-esteem and mental health deteriorate.
I am not alone.
I am not alone in facing these roadblocks – I feel that for too long our experiences have been left out of the conversation. This is why I spoke to Kim Chakanetsa, host of BBC Africa’s podcast #TheComb.
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