OPINION

Emergency fund needed to assist students failed by NSFAS – Belinda Bozzoli

DA MP says Minister must explain why so many students have not received their allowances

DA calls for emergency fund to assist students failed by NSFAS

7 June 2018

Yesterday, DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education and Training, Belinda Bozzoli MP, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Andricus van der Westhuizen MP, and DA Constituency Head for the Masilonyana, Tokologo and Tswelopele Local Municipalities, George Michalakis MP, visited three campuses of the Maluti TVET College after property there was destroyed following violent protests in the last few weeks.

Maluti TVET College is one of many institutions of higher learning that has been badly affected by the systemic failures at the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

The administrative systems within NSFAS have proved completely unable to cope with the new “student-centred funding model”. Former President Jacob Zuma’s promise to deliver “free higher education for the poor” has also failed dismally and students are feeling the effects of this failure.

The DA will now call on the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Naledi Pandor, to set up an emergency student allowance fund to assist students who are unable to continue because of her department’s failure to deliver. She must also explain why so many students across the country have not received their NSFAS allowances.

The main grievance Maluti students expressed was that the promised NSFAS funding under the new “free higher education for the poor” policy of the ANC has not fully materialised.

They blame the college for this. At fault, however, is NSFAS which, in a desperate attempt to get money to students in time, transferred millions to the colleges and universities and required these institutions to disburse the money.

These institutions have no systems in place to make this possible and require confirmation from NSFAS as to which students are eligible before they can disburse any money. This confirmation has still not been received.

It now appears that higher learning institutions are solely to blame for the untenable situation students now find themselves in, while the national government is to blame for this crisis which has left many students without food, accommodation or transport.

Many other students may have possibly dropped out due to the lack of funds. Minister Pandor must therefore do the right thing and account for this disastrous situation. Students’ futures have been destroyed due to the government’s populism and, to avert further disaster, an emergency student allowance fund must be established without delay.

Poor students are now in danger of not completing their studies due to the massive failure by the Department. We will never begin to resolve the unemployment crisis if students are being let down in this manner. Close to 10 million people are without jobs, that number will continue to increase if this funding matter is not resolved.

Issued by Belinda Bozzoli, DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education & Training, 7 June 2018