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An international student’s nontraditional status at university- From South Africa to Mauritius

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

You can never be too old to learn”- Shandukani Ramazhamba

A traditional to non traditional tertiary choice:

The road to acquire tertiary education is varied for each student. Some students may choose to attend university immediately after graduating from high school, some may choose to pursue a passion project for a year or two before attending university while others don’t have the financial means to consider attending university in the immediate future. Shandukani a nontraditonal South African student and a mother of two beautiful little girls, studying towards a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management in Mauritius, fell in the latter category of students.

The roadblocks ahead:

Originally Shandukani thought applying to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) would guarantee funding for her degree but was soon rejected because her household earnings were slightly above the salary criteria set by NSFAS. Unable to qualify for that government regulated funding, she tried her luck at private funding. Describing herself as an average student, she was underqualified for many of the bursaries in South Africa which asked for stellar grades throughout all subjects focusing on accounting, economics, and other business management – related school subjects. Therefore, getting a job became the most logical step to take after high school.

Leap of Faith: Travels from South Africa to Mauritius:

8 years after graduating from high school Shandukani comes across an advertisement about the African Leadership University. The advertisement takes her by surprise as it is highlighting the opportunity for a scholarship to study outside of South Africa. Jokingly, Shandukani applies for the university and later admits in our interview that she didn’t think it was a legitimate university as she had not heard about it before therefore knew of no one who was an alum of the university. After the formalities were completed, Shandukani is now a student at the African Leadership College in Mauritius. Candidly during the interview Shandukani admits that Mauritius has always been a dream travel destination for her. She fondly reminisces about how that desire to travel to Mauritius was planted and nurtured by Friends Like These. This was a game show which pitted friend groups against each other in the hopes of winning a cruise from South Africa to Mauritius.

Diversifying the definition of diversity:

Although the diversity in South Africa is a marvel to experience, the opportunity to attend university in Mauritius has cracked that definition of diversity open in a layered manner. The first layer lends itself to the cultural and linguistic diversity in Mauritius. Most Mauritians draw their ancestral roots from the Asian continent and having been colonized by the French, they speak French, Creole and English. The second layer lends itself to the food, although there is a heavy French influence, Indian and Malaysian flavors and dishes are staples in many Mauritian homes. The last yet closest layer of diversity is the campus where Shandukani attends her classes and spends most of her time. She shares the campus with students from all the various regions of Africa, allowing for an eye-opening interaction of mainland African diversity on an African island.

Backbone of Education, can be ‘Community’:

Shandukani had an established community before leaving to study in Mauritius. It was this same community which had her parents at the center which has helped her raise her two daughters while she is out of the country. When asked about how the conversation to look after her daughters went with her parents, she chuckled and said “it was something which happened naturally. They knew that if I leave, they will look after my girls. Just like when we were younger and were raised by our grandparents, while our parents went into the city to look for greener pastures”.

Author: Asemahle Mgayi

Innustame Internships 2022

Editor: Preeti Samuel Rajendran

Photo Resources: Shandukani Ramazhamba and Responsible Travel

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