NSFAS funding increased by billions over six years
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Cape Town - Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande said National Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding has increased from R5.9 billion in 2014 to R34.7bn last year.
Nzimande said in the current financial year NSFAS funding was expected to reach over R43bn, a further increase of close to R10bn in just two years from 2020.
Nzimande said there had been a significant increase in the number of students and an increased budget allocation by the government to fund the children of the poor and the working class through the NSFAS.
He said that was in line with the government’s commitment to fund university and TVET college students from poor and working-class backgrounds to attain at least the first undergraduate qualification or a TVET college qualification.
“From 2018 NSFAS has been funding its recipients for tuition, accommodation, meals, learning material allowances, daily allowance and, in some cases, a transport allowance,” said Nzimande.
SA Students Congress (Sasco) spokesperson Luvuyo Barnes said from 2014 to 2021, cost of living in the country had increased, with the pandemic also hitting SA and that has put an additional pressure on the entity and education sector.
Barnes said Nzimande and the government must bring solutions to the problems, including those of the so called “missing middle”.
“We need a government that has a political will to tackle the challenges that we face in the higher education sector, and the government must give solutions instead of just characterising that there is a problem,” said Barnes.
Education activist Hendrick Makaneta called on the government to improve the NSFAS by injecting more money to meet the growing needs of students as the number of students continued to rise.
Makaneta said there were many students who had experienced shortfalls in as far as their NSFAS funding was concerned.
“We received reports last year that some of the students did not receive their allowances. The NSFAS has a duty to bring about a clearly defined turnaround strategy to meet the high expectations and demands of the rising student population.”
He said it was encouraging that there was now a new NSFAS board which should do everything to make sure that financial exclusions were a thing of the past.