The South African Booksellers Association's (Saba) head of academic sector Mohamed Kharwa said their members, who between them supplied the majority of higher education textbooks in South Africa, had noted that the majority of students were not spending their funds on textbooks or study materials as intended.
He said in a number of cases the decline has led to the closure of bookstores, which cater specifically to higher education institutions, leaving some students struggling to gain access to the required resources. In the past, NSFAS had ring-fenced book allowances using various control systems and fund administrators, Kharwa said.
“The association has tried to engage NSFAS and other higher education bodies with proposed solutions, based on our extensive data, to address abuse and improve accountability. It must be highlighted, however, that the majority of funds were legitimately spent by students on beneficial educational material,” Kharwa said.
Van Schaik Bookstore supplies academic textbooks nationally through its 63 stores. The store had also noted a decline in textbook purchases since universities opened this year.