4 October 2017

South Africa: Stark Contrast Between Previously Advantaged and Disadvantaged Universities - NSFAS Chair

A donation of 25 000 books valued at R12.5m to the Walter Sisulu University will contribute to levelling the playing field for students at previously disadvantaged institutions, NSFAS chairperson Sizwe Nxasana said on Tuesday.

In a statement, the former chief executive of Telkom SA said he made the donation to help overcome some of the challenges within the country's higher education sector.

"Institutions like Walter Sisulu University have undergone major transformation since 1994, but still lack much-needed support to match the standards of more advantaged tertiary institutions, they are not 'previously' disadvantaged, but, still to this day, disadvantaged," Nxasana said.

"While the challenges are great, the will to succeed is greater and I am very confident that Africa is on the cusp of a revolution in education."

Nxasana received an honorary doctorate from the Walter Sisulu University in 2016.

He donated the books to the university at the Future Nation Schools book fair in Lyndhurst, Gauteng, on Saturday.

Future Nation Schools is an organisation started by Nxasana and his wife Judy Dlamini to equip and empower pupils through "a technology-enabled, future-focused and globally competitive learning model".

Access to latest titles

Walter Sisulu University senior director of library and information services Pateka Ntshuntshe-Matshaya said Nxasana's investment was 10 times the university's yearly budget for buying new books.

"These books are a very big injection into our learning... Students complained that books were old and irrelevant and now students will have access to the latest titles," Ntshuntshe-Matshaya told News24.

The books cover genres ranging from fiction, action and adventure, self-help, health, religion and spirituality, history, poetry, encyclopaedias, dictionaries and biographies.

The books are set to arrive at the university in the middle of October.

Ntshuntshe-Matshaya said she had already instructed staff to start making space for the books' arrival.

"I have also requested extra budget from the university to employ contractors who will help add the books to the database to ensure they can be used as soon as possible."

Ntshuntshe-Matshaya said special programmes have been planned with help from the university's English department, to cultivate a love for books in students.

"This university's student numbers are growing very fast and we have students coming from areas where books are considered a luxury, these books will hopefully increase accessibility and equip our students for the future," she said.

Source: News24

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