The DA will write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training, Cornelia September, requesting an urgent meeting with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) on why thousands of students have reportedly not received allowances in months.
NSFAS and the Minister of Higher Education, Naledi Pandor, needed to answer three key questions at their press conference today:
How many students have not received their allowances;
Why has this happened; and
When will these students receive their funding?
Unfortunately, they failed to do so, aside from some vague assurances that they are "working on" some problems that have arisen with loan agreements and data integration.
This kind of vague answer means nothing to students who have nowhere to sleep and nothing to eat, as has been widely reported in the media.
It is shocking that the Minister did not demand proper answers from NSFAS officials when protests continue around the country over unpaid NSFAS funding. We will therefore ask NSFAS to answer these questions before Committee.
NSFAS confirmed today that their budget for 2020/2021 will reach R35.3 billion to be distributed through the student-centred funding model that will help them allocate the right amount of money to each student.
This system should be able to tell them immediately how many students awarded funding have not received it, and why this is. If it can't, how can we expect it to handle paying out a R35 billion budget?
It is pointless to praise a new bursary model when NSFAS cannot cover the basic needs of students. NSFAS must do the right thing and account for not delivering on their mandate of providing funding for all deserving students.
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Belinda Bozzoli MP
DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education and Training