NRF Youth Month 2024: Nhlawulo Arnold Baburi

NRF Youth Month 2024: Nhlawulo Arnold Baburi

This year’s Youth Month is significant as the NRF celebrates 25 Years of Research, Innovation, Impact and Partnerships. These are the stories of the youth who have not only been impacted by the NRF but who also have an impact in their own spaces – and beyond! We thank all participants for sharing their stories with us.

Mr Nhlawulo Arnold Baburi is a Master’s student in Media Studies at the University of Limpopo and an independent, visually impaired activist. He received funding from the NRF for his Honours studies.

How did your journey start?

My career journey began at Hisekelani P. School where my dream was to become a mechanical engineer. Unfortunately, in 2012, I was diagnosed with glaucoma, which affected my sight. Due to this, I failed Grade 7 as I spent two months in the hospital and faced other challenges, including depression, stress, emotional damage, lack of participation in class, and poor performance. I repeated the grade in 2014 and passed, after which I moved to Rivoni School for the Blind.

In 2019, I completed my matriculation with two distinctions in Business Studies and Economics, achieving an APS of 34%. Though I did not make it to the national and provincial awards, the Limpopo gambling board awarded me a laptop.

In 2020, I enrolled at the University of Limpopo to study media studies. I decided to change my career due to my disability and the subjects I had studied at Rivoni School for the Blind. Media studies appealed to me as I aspired to become one of the policymakers in the mass communication sector. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I maintained a good academic record, without failing any modules or having to write supplementary exams. However, I did fail a test once during my second level of HMDS012, obtaining a score of 34%. This happened because I took advantage of online learning and did not adequately prepare for the test. Nevertheless, it was the only assessment I failed, and it did not affect my overall qualification or success in the module, as I performed well in other assessments. I graduated with an average of 76%, including three distinctions out of six modules in my final year. I completed my degree in record time.

In 2023, I was admitted to pursue an Honours degree in Media Studies at the University of Limpopo. Fortunately, I received a general scholarship from the National Research Foundation (NRF), covering the full cost of my studies. I worked diligently during my Honours degree and achieved 5/5 distinctions, graduating cum laude with an average of 79%.

Currently, I am pursuing my Master’s degree in Media Studies at the University of Limpopo. I am also actively seeking employment opportunities. Although I had an offer to work as a graphic designer at a major mining company, I was unable to accept the opportunity due to the nature of my disability. Additionally, I declined an offer to become the deputy president of the youth for a certain political party in Gauteng province. They were impressed by my communication skills, energy, and determination, but I made the decision not to accept the position.

How has your affiliation with the NRF impacted your studies/career?

In 2023, I received funding from the NRF that covered my Honours degree fees. This financial support allowed me to meet my academic and personal needs, as well as support my family. I also managed to save some money, which I used for registration this year, and I was able to significantly reduce my tuition and accommodation fees from approximately R65 000 to around R10 000.

Additionally, thanks to the support from the NRF, I was able to purchase a magnifier called the Explorer 8. This magnifier helps me zoom in on text in hard copies.

The NRF has truly transformed my life and the lives of my family members, including my mother and her sister, my grandmother, and four siblings. Although I received a general scholarship from the NRF, it has had a profound impact on my life.

What is your area of expertise?

In my current work and studies, I am focusing on new media and technology. My research topic is Facebook Usage and Youth Involvement in the Content Creation Job Market in Capricorn District, South Africa. I have already presented my research proposal, made necessary corrections, and it has been conditionally accepted.

Why is your work/studies important?

The research on Facebook usage and youth involvement in the content creation job market in the Capricorn District is crucial because it tackles the lack of understanding in this field and highlights the potential for income generation and employment opportunities for young people.

The potential impact of this study is significant, both for South Africa and the rest of the world. In South Africa, where youth unemployment rates are high, understanding how Facebook usage can contribute to youth involvement in the content creation job market becomes crucial. By gaining insights into the patterns, attitudes, and perceptions of youth in the Capricorn District, the study can inform strategies and interventions aimed at promoting entrepreneurship, self-employment, and economic opportunities for young people on social media platforms like Facebook. This can help address the pressing issue of high youth unemployment, poverty and limited job prospects in the country.

Moreover, the findings of this study can have broader implications beyond South Africa. As social media platforms are global, the insights gained from the study can be applicable to other countries and regions facing similar challenges. The study can provide best practices, recommendations, and insights for policymakers, educators, and youth empowerment organizations worldwide to support and empower young people in their pursuit of economic opportunities in the digital era.

I am also a Visual Impaired activist who uses Facebook as a platform to raise awareness about issues affecting visually impaired individuals. Through my digital advocacy on Facebook for the visually impaired community, my goal is to raise awareness and drive change in the economic oppression faced by visually impaired individuals. I focus on advocating for fair balance and equality in employment opportunities. As my message reaches a wider audience and gain likes and followers, it holds the potential to bring about change by reaching those in positions of authority who can impact the system for the better. This includes politicians, workers in the Department of Labour, and various organisations dedicated to fighting for the economic rights of visually impaired individuals.

What are some of your proudest academic achievements?

My proudest academic achievement is my most recent one: obtaining 5/5 distinctions in my Honours degree cum laude. Secondly, completing my undergraduate degree in record time, without failing or repeating a module, as well as without writing a supplementary exam. Additionally, obtaining position two in grade 11 and position three in grade 12 means a lot to me.

I attribute all my academic achievements to my lecturers. I achieved all of this because I have a good relationship with all my lecturers. It is not easy for a visually impaired person to reach the top, but I did it. Also, my friend Sylvia Mojapelo contributed greatly to my academic success. As a visually impaired person, I live with limitations, but she helped me navigate through my academic activities.

The rights to this article (content and images) are reserved by the National Research Foundation of South Africa. This work is licenced under an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 DEED) license: this implies that the article may be republished (shared) on other websites, but the article may not be altered or built upon in any way. Credit must be given to the National Research Foundation and a link provided back to the original article.

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