Bursary recipient never gave up on his dream

The department of education’s Matthew Goniwe Scholarship is the incentive many aspirant teachers have been longing for.

ALL SMILES: Samkelo Tom, centre, who is one of the beneficiaries of the department of education’s Matthew Goniwe Scholarship. He is seen here with Avela Venevene and Masibulele Mxanywa

Samkelo Tom, 24, of Whittlesea, is one of the Goniwe scholarship beneficiaries. The first-year education student at Walter Sisulu University said the scholarship had changed his life forever.

Tom was among 300 recipients of the 2017 Matthew Goniwe Bursary officially launched at the East London ICC yesterday.

Goniwe was a UDF hero slain by apartheid security police along with three of his Lingelihle, Cradock, comrades on June 27 1985.

Goniwe, a quiet, humble man with a big smile and deep intellect was also a teacher and principal who produced scholars from the township who were obtaining As and Bs for science and maths.

Tom did not have it easy. He struggled after losing his parents and had to rely on his granny to support him.

Tom passed his matric in 2012, with average results that did not allow him to enrol for the teacher’s degree he is passionate about.

He enrolled at Midlands College in 2013, but had to drop out after his grandmother could not afford to pay for his studies.

But Tom took it on the chin, and changed his strategy in his quest to become a teacher.

He went back to school, repeated his matric and upgraded his results. In 2014 he obtained a university entrance pass.

A year later, Tom enrolled at the University of Fort Hare for a BSc degree in chemistry and completed the year, but again had to drop out when his granny could not pay his residence fees, which were not covered by NSFAS.

Last year he applied for a teaching degree at WSU and was admitted but did not make the cut for NSFAS support.

“I thought I had run out of options and that maybe it was just not meant to be. Then I saw a newspaper advert about this Matthew Goniwe bursary scheme, which went by a different name at the time, and I applied immediately,” said Tom.

His struggles were still not over.

“Others who had applied got letters informing them they had been awarded the bursary, but nothing came my side.”

Cranking up his resolve, Tom followed up with calls and travelled to Bhisho to ask about the status of his application.

He learned his documentation was incomplete. He corrected the mistake and he was in.

“I am ready to impart what I learn to others and bring about changes to the teaching of mathematics and science teaching in the Eastern Cape upon the completion of my qualification and beyond.” — Additional reporting Mike Loewe

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