As underprivileged students around the country continue to lobby for free tertiary education, 29 students can breathe a sigh of relief after they were handpicked for bursaries on Friday. The students were beneficiaries of the Oasis Crescent Fund Trust, which aims to empower the youth through education. The Oasis Bursary Programme 2016 handover ceremony assists hardworking achievers by making university education affordable and accessible.
Applicants are afforded the bursary based on their academic performance. Oasis CEO Adam Ebrahim reiterated that the programme is put in place to ensure that hardworking students have a good education.
The programme is very diverse and the students currently participating in the Oasis Bursary programme are registered at the top universities in the country. Most of these students are studying degrees relating to Commerce,
Engineering, Law, Health Science, Social Sciences and Management Studies from 39 Universities around South Africa.
The bursary includes the payment of all tuition fees, providing students with equipment, mentorship, vacation or full-time work and a volunteer service to give back.
The concept of giving back is at the heart of the programme as eligible students are obligated to complete vacation work during their degree and full time employment after graduation to repay the bursary.
Giving back is one of the cornerstones of the legacy that Oasis leaves behind. The concept is part of the company’s social responsibility and after applicants become part of the programm, they are obliged to do the same. The Trust aims to improve the lives of its applicants but in turn they should assist in improving the lives of the community.
“The bursary scheme is here to improve the quality of life and leave no one behind. The social responsibilities of employees go to old age homes and orphanages. We encourage our recipients to give back to the community and build a strong society,” says Ebrahim.
However, they expect their bursary holders to adhere to the terms of the bursary by maintaining the high standards set by the company and fulfilling their responsibilities.
By offering accessible and affordable education to the youth the company assists in improving the quality of their academic performance. With violent protests prevalent at universities nationwide, debt acquired through attempts at obtaining a university degree often hinder students’ ability to perform academically.
Students are often unable to seek employment as they are indebted. Every year thousands attend tertiary institutions but two thirds are not by the financial means to do so. The Trust therefore aims to relieve students from their financial obligations.
“Debt is at the heart of education. It affects education. If students don’t have money they have to worry about it and they cannot focus on their academics. Many young people leave school to hoping to go to university but they do not have the money for it. They cannot get jobs at companies as they have such big debt and they have to pay it back to the institution. We don’t want students to have that burden as no student should have debt,” says Ebrahim.
Despite supporting the cause of the Fees Must Fall protests, the Trust said it condemns university violence. Ebrahim reminisced about liberation struggles he experienced while completing his degree under the apartheid government. Although he acknowledged it was a time when resources were not as accessible to people of colour, he got through it through perseverance.
“We are strongly against violent acts. Do not burn anything. Don’t burn buildings, books or any tertiary buildings. We only built flags during Apartheid,” says Ebrahim.
Motivational speaker, musician Jimmy Nevis served as a beacon of hope to applicants with his inspirational story about making it in the music industry. The Athlone born musician had been given a rejection letter by the University of Cape Town (UCT) to study a Bachelor of arts in Music and pursued a Bachelors in media and Sociology instead.
With little hope in 2012 in his second year of Media studies, he wrote the song Elephant Shoes and sent a demo tape to Kfm and later was sourced nationwide. It was during this time that he realized that he was not waiting to be discovered but to discover himself. Nevis encouraged students to not give up on their dreams and work hard.
“You need to preserve. I wanted to be discovered and during that time I discovered myself. I discovered who I am and my role in society,” said Nevis.
Applicants say after acts after seeing the volatility around the Fees Must Fall, Luister, outsourcing and Shackville protests, the bursary programme is a window of hope.
“I am in my 2nd year of Bcom Accounting and the experience is amazing. It is a rare opportunity. If it wasn’t for the bursary I would not be able to go to UCT,” says Mustafa Arif.
“This is my second year with the bursary programme. I’m grateful because after last year exams were deferred to January last year due to protests. People even broke into exam venues and broke things but we go through it. Luckily no exams were cancelled.”
Ruwayda Malick is completing her honours in Linguistics and came across the bursary through a friend.
“I am so relieved to be able to afford books and my fees. Protests on campus have disrupted the classes by the cleaners end to outsourcing protests. They emptied out bins in lecture ventures and we hand to sit in filth,” she said.
“I took a gap year to do Islamic studies and just take the opportunity to find my feet then I found the bursary online. It was just so difficult to get a bursary at universities. You either too rich to qualify for NSFAS or you have to live on the street to get funding. So I feel fortunate,” said Zakiyya Stellenboom.
The bursary programme for 2017 opens in September this year.
VOC (Nailah Cornelissen)