Buffalo City Municipality empowers underprivileged youth with educational programmes

This is the second education program this year that the office hosted for underprivileged young people in the metro. Photo: Supplied


The office of Princess Faku, the deputy executive mayor in Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality in the Eastern Cape, is on a mission to assist young people from disadvantaged communities by bringing university opportunities to them.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the office held a medical career expo to help matriculants wanting to study for careers in the medical sector with online applications.

This is the second education program this year that the office hosted for underprivileged young people in the metro.

Faku told City Press that in January, her office held a similar program in partnership with the National Youth Development Agency and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) to help prospective higher education students apply for funding from Nsfas.

“We have taken responsibility to focus on young people in the metro because we have learned that in the past decade, there had been a lack of support for youth development.

Faku said:

We have brought opportunities to the most disadvantaged young people in Mdatsane or Xwelerha who want to be doctors but don’t know where to study,.

On Wednesday, the expo was hosted at the Cambridge Hall in East London and at OR Tambo Hall in Zwelitsha in Qonce on Thursday.

The Nelson Mandela University Medical School, Walter Sisulu University and the health faculty of the University of Fort Hare were present at the expo. The provincial department of health shared its bursaries and scholarship opportunities with pupils.

Faku said her office had decided to host a medical career expo because it wanted the metro to produce young medical professionals to address the health needs of the province and be at the forefront of future pandemics.

“We want young people coming from Duncan Village who say ‘I want to become a medical doctor, I want to be a pharmacist, I want to be a vet’ but do not know how to go about it. We are bringing these opportunities to them.

“If there is a Dr. [Pedro] Mzileni that could be produced from Zwelitsha after having studied at a public school, why can’t you have another doctor coming from Mdatsane?”

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Mzileni, a manager in Faku’s office, recently obtained his PhD from Nelson Mandela University. His research on him was focused on student accommodation in Gqeberha.

Faku said part of the reason for the recent career expo was there was a rush in January by matriculants to get space at higher education institutions, and at that time, applications were already closed, so the program was seeking to reduce that influx.

Just like in January when her office assisted young people to apply for Nsfas, Faku said there were photocopy machines, computers, scanners and commissioners of oaths who assisted the matriculants who were applying to get into medical school.

“It is also difficult for some young people to apply online, so we also offered Wi-Fi. What we wanted to do was for young people to have access to all these things to have complete applications. We said let it be a one-stop shop where you can do everything and complete your application today.

“We have taken a conscious decision to have these one-stop shops because some of these kids stay with their grandparents who solely depend on social grants, and they might not have money for them to do all these things.”

Faku has credited the young team in her office – led by Mzileni – for championing the education programmes.

She told City Press that she had taken a “stance” to have young graduates in her office because she believed they understood the needs of the young generation.

She added that Mzileni was at some point a student representative council (SRC) at Nelson Mandela University, and that she had also appointed another graduate who was an SRC president from Fort Hare.

Bongekile Macupe

Senior Education Journalist

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