The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) announced on Wednesday that it has received R20 million to assist in providing debt relief for students.
The university said the cash injection was from the Moses Kotane Institute (MKI) and the newly-established merSETA Skills Development Fund, which helped ease the problems of skills gaps and the student debt burden within KZN.
“The debt relief assistance is a beacon of hope, particularly for students from historically disadvantaged backgrounds, helping alleviate financial constraints and open doors to brighter futures,” said UKZN.
Acting executive director of the UKZN Foundation, Steve Camp, said this assistance offered support to students during tough economic times.
“Philanthropic support from UKZN partners such as the Moses Kotane Institute and merSETA lifts a weight from our students in tough economic times, freeing them to get into the job market, to lead healthy, joy-filled lives and find purpose in work, play, family and more. It is a gift beyond measure,” said Camp.
MKI Acting CEO Thembelihle Mapipa said the institute was dedicated to addressing challenges faced by students from historically disadvantaged backgrounds.
“Our focus over the years has been on making a significant contribution to improving the skills development of KZN’s younger generation. In approaching merSETA, we sought support to develop strategies that not only enhance employability and productivity but also contribute to economic growth and promote a more inclusive and equitable society,” she said.
KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs Siboniso Duma said he supported the initiative.
He said it was a testament to MKI's commitment to empowering the youth and fostering a stronger, more equitable society.
“This programme is a significant step in the right direction for our province,” said Duma.
UKZN said merSETA was committed to enhancing workforce employability, fostering economic growth, and promoting social inclusivity and equity.
“The merSETA Skills Development Fund, championed by MKI, reflects a collective ambition to close the skills gap as well as upskill and re-skill individuals – a crucial component of the economic reconstruction and recovery plan.
“The initiative not only holds the potential to drive KwaZulu-Natal’s economic resurgence but also promises sustainable growth in the long run.”
Other higher education institutions, including the Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT), Durban University of Technology (DUT), and University of Zululand (UNIZULU), will also benefit.