Over 160 government officials and participants from 11 African countries including Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa gathered in Malawi recently to attend an international conference organised by the Association of African Higher Education Financing Agencies (AAHEFA).
The conference saw talks take place between Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor and representatives from around Africa to increase government support in higher education.
National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) spokesperson Kagisho Mamabolo said AAHEFA expressed concerns regarding the scheme in South Africa and how it should operate with subsidised higher education.
“Our participation this year is important. It’s an opportunity to re-examine how we’re doing things.
"We appointed Randall Carolissen as NSFAS administrator to oversee the entire governance and operations of NSFAS and determine how NSFAS should operate in subsidised higher education.
“He has 12 months to tell the minister how NSFAS should operate in the new policy dispensation. The president of AAHEFA called on SA to look at ways to align the funding and the study cycle, arguing that students in SA don’t have enough time to decide what to study,” said Mamabolo.
Mamabolo said the organisation was reviewing its function and the way it had been assisting pupils compared to other African universities, who changed their payment schedules and provided students with necessities such as laptops, to ensure their funding covered other needs.
President of AAHEFA and chief executive of the Higher Education Loan Board in Kenya Charles Ringera said the challenges South Africa faced were not unique and the conference outcomes would inform AAHEFA about gaps in student funding.
“We need to look at systemic issues in giving out money more efficiently. Higher education stands as the cornerstone through which individuals can unleash their potential by discovering new technologies, innovations and implementing them for the growth of African states.”@IAmAthinaMay