Durban - National Freedom Party (NFP) leader Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi says more needs to be done to beef up financial support given to poor students at tertiary institutions.
Many poor students at universities and FET colleges have turned to prostitution to try to make ends meet, kaMagwaza-Msibi claimed on Sunday.
She said while the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) budget - which has increased to R9 billion this year - would help 430 000 students at the country’s public universities and FET colleges, this was not enough.
What had to be considered was that there were many more pupils matriculating each year than those receiving assistance from the fund.
Last year, 439 779 pupils matriculated, she said.
KaMagwaza-Msibi, who is also the deputy minister of Science and Technology, was addressing members of her party’s student wing, the National Students Movement (Nasmo).
The student organisation met at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard College to elect its new leadership.
KaMagwaza-Msibi said access to education was still a big problem for young South Africans, especially those who came from the rural areas.
“Worse, many deserving students are not assisted through NSFAS because of corruption, mismanagement and fraud in the running of the scheme. There are a number of students who are blacklisted because they cannot afford to repay NSFAS.”
She said Nasmo should be at the forefront in ensuring that poor students get the financial assistance they deserve.
“When a young person sees a member of Nasmo, she must see light. Her hopes of a better future must be renewed… Stand up for students.”
Delegates to the conference were on Sunday night expected to start electing new leadership.
KaMagwaza-Msibi also warned members of the student wing against fighting over positions and factionalism, saying this could weaken the NFP.
“Our organisation is still at an infant stage. To build it will require Nasmo to be functioning well,” she said.