File picture: Jason Boud

Johannesburg - The National Education, Health, and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) on Sunday welcomed the announcement by Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor that R967 million is being allocated to settle the historic debt owed by students through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme [NSFAS].

"The allocated funds will be directed to more than 52 000 students who were registered with NSFAS prior to 2018 who had to fork out of their own pockets to cover the shortfall from the NSFAS allocation," the union said in a statement.

The new funding model would not require students to fund part of their fees through family or own funding. Instead, NSFAS paid institutions of higher learning directly for accommodation, food, and transportation costs for students.

"As Nehawu, we commend the department for listening to the cries of students who have been excluded from academic activities because of historic debt. The national union views this move as a step towards eliminating financial exclusion of students who are in the main from working class and poor backgrounds.

"While we welcome this intervention by the department we continue to hold a strong view that we need a thorough discussion on the NSFAS model characterised by management and policies orientated to a loan scheme system which is a complete contradiction to free education subsidiary scheme. As Nehawu, we will intensify our call for the governing party to implement its resolutions on higher education as a matter of urgency," the union said.

African News Agency (ANA)