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Access To Success 2017: Khulukazi Ralase

Access To Success helps Khulukazi Ralase Pay It Forward

Khulukazi Ralase, 50, considers herself a late bloomer: after matriculating from St Francis Adult Centre in Langa Township, she was only afforded the opportunity to start studying at the age of 46. But she’s made the most of it, despite a few challenges along the way.

When her twin sister, Ncikazi, fell pregnant in the year they were supposed to start attending university, Khulukazi decided she was willing to put her plans to further her education on hold and look after her sister’s baby, until her sister finishes her degree.

Her desire to study further continued to grow as she saw her twin sister progress in her studies - and especially whn she realised that there were opportunities in the form of the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme at UWC.

“This programme paved the way for me and now I am ready to make a difference in my community.”

Today, Khulukazi is studying towards an LLB. It is a five-year course and she is in her third year of study. After having to complete a bridging course in 2013, she was only able to apply successfully in 2014.

But there are still challenges to overcome. Unreliable public transport is one of them, as is the general financial struggle of fees, textbooks and the like - and a home environment where she doesn’t have her own study space.

“I have to wait for everyone to go to sleep,” she say. “That’s the only time I have to study, and sometimes my studies give me uphill too, and I struggle with a few modules - but I’m learning to keep pushing through.”

That’s why Khulukazi is a worthy recipient of funds from UWC’s #AccessToSuccess campaign, which focuses on providing much-needed funding to students who are performing well academically, but who cannot afford university fees.

“Access to Success has offered me a lot of  help, and it came at the right time in my life as a full-time student. I have no other means, except NSFAS. It is a huge relief for me and I am grateful. It means I need to work harder and succeed to be able to pay it forward and help others who are in the same position.”

In the future Khulukazi wants to pursue her dream of officially launching a programme called Keep Them Safe, aimed at preventing children from committing crimes.

“I already started it unofficially, and it focuses on youth development,” she explains. “I want to open spaces to children in my community where they can be free from the dangers modern society poses for them.”

Khulukazi has a long-term dream that supports this venture:  “I am hoping to travel the world engaging with other youth developers and working with them in trying to tackle important issues such as child safety. I see myself advocating on behalf of women and children who struggle with the same needs.”

She is supported by her role model - her mother, Nandipha - who she describes as someone who is tough and who is able to work her way through challenges. Another inspirational figure is Judge Thokozile Mapisa, who studied law at the age of forty.

“The Access to Success initiative will definitely impact positively on the lives of students who are in need, motivating them to work harder and achieve more. This idea is good and it has given me food for thought,” says Khulukazi.

“I would like say to my funders -  there is a saying in isiXhoso, “umntu ngumntu ngabantu”, meaning,’I am because you are’. I am so grateful. It feels like a dream I do not wish to wake up from.”

Access To Success 2017: Helping Others Grow From Hope To Action

The Access To Success 2017 campaign includes:

    •    a public media fundraising campaign;?

    •    an alumni phonathon where current students gather testimonies from alumni and request regular,

          affordable annual donations; and?

    •    a pledge system to allow UWC staff to contribute.?

Last year the campaign exceeded all expectations, having raised over R1,6 million in pledges in three weeks - the target was R1million in five weeks - and having also brought on board 557 new alumni and staff givers.

So far, 93 students have benefited from Access To Success - and students can apply for funding through UWC’s Financial Aid Office.

To make a contribution, whether a monthly debit order or once-off donation,  or for more information about the #AccessToSuccess campaign, please contact Ms Somayah Barnes at or visit