Over the last few months, I’ve had encounters with over 300 qualified students who did not enrol in any University this year. Many have dropped out and few others are planning to if circumstances do not change in the near future.

It tears my heart apart. These are students I have had one-on-one interactions with. They are brilliant and intelligent. They have everything to be a good student in any University, except – money.

I feel sad that excellence in aptitude will count for nothing in their quest for quality education, but instead the size of their parent’s pocket will. In my country, educational loan is simply non-existent or only available to rich kids whose parents can afford thousands of dollars in education. At 1Plify, we have tried to work with banks to offer education loan to some of our students, but that effort hasn’t been successful so far. All the Government scholarship schemes (state and Federal combined) either cater for too few students or are mostly awarded to students with “long legs”.

Where do we go from here?

How do we educate our future leaders? Am I going mad or am I living in my own bubble of running an education company?

Am I the only one seeing students’ dropout rates increase steadily? Am I the only one seeing parents sell shares and properties at ridiculously low amounts to pay their children’s fees?
One of the students I know is having a difficult time studying. She can’t focus, she lives in fear. Fear of not being allowed into the classroom at any time. She has been denied exams multiple times. She can’t even look at her teachers in the face any longer. The shame of owing fees for 3 years won’t let her concentrate in class.

What do I say about that my new friend “abroad” that just decided to drop- out? She picked up a job she wouldn’t have thought of taking if she was in school. She doesn’t have a choice, she has to survive. She has a plan to save for years and see if she’ll be able to re-enrol later. It’s not normal. It’s not cool, but she has to do it.

Too many stories like these. My heart bleeds. Badly.

We need to do more. For our brightest. For those who have nowhere else to turn to. For those whose lives depend on that University degree. Why don’t we have a Government backed education loan scheme? In other countries, education loan is cheaper than mortgages, car loans etc. Our banks will simply not give out loans to students whose parents don’t earn six figures or with expensive properties as loans.

OR, can we rethink this tuition model? Can we develop new models of University education that allows the less privileged access to the same quality education that the rich get? Who will speak for these students who are in shame of a crime they never committed. Actually, the shame is on us. For letting them down. For not providing them affordable education. For not providing them options to finance their education. And ultimately, looking down on them for not having a University degree.

For the students currently facing this hardship, I stand with you. I feel your pain. Take heart. Do what must, this day. Take those difficult steps. Things are tough, I know it, but do what you must to get educated; or not.

Technopreneur. Chief Hustler at 1Plify. PhD scholar [Technology entrepreneurship]

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