Minister Nzimande hails PSET sector provision of laptops and data to students as a success
The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, hails the implementation of differentiated schemes across the university and TVET system to support students to obtain digital devices and the provision of data to support learning and teaching.
Despite some glitches this is proving to be significant progress and intervention. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) implemented a central scheme to provide laptops to funded students whilst several universities implemented their own schemes to support students to obtain a device.
Minister Nzimande said where universities did not have schemes in place, NSFAS-qualifying students receive an annual learning material allowance directly, which they are able to utilise to purchase a device.
The Minister said the extent to which students who indicated a need for laptops varies widely across universities from 0% to over 70% for eighteen (18) institutions.
Minister Nzimande said that NSFAS pre-ordered the first batch of 170 000 laptops for NSFAS funded Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college and university students in February and March 2021.
"It is projected that approximately 160 000 of these devices will go to TVET students, whereas the balance is earmarked for universities," said Minister Nzimande.
The Minister further said NSFAS already provided an allocation list of 61 808 students to the service provider (59 962 TVET students and 1 846 university students).
The demand for universities is based on applications from students. NSFAS has prioritised TVET returning students who are confirmed as funded for the current active cycles which includes the annual National Certificate (Vocational), Trimester 2 and Semester 2
"As of 1 September 2021, the service provider delivered 51 976 laptops to the TVET sector. An additional 10 799 laptops was delivered on the 22 September 2021," confirmed the Minister.
Minister Nzimande also said that the TVET Branch is working together with the South African College Principals Organisation to finalise negotiations with the relevant mobile network operators for zero-rated data for both students and staff.
"The July 2021 Covid-19 monitoring reports received from universities show that data bundle provision to students remains high across the system. Most universities report between 95% to 100% of students who have access to data. The zero-rating of departmental
and public institutions' websites is 97% completed.
This is following the directions issued under Regulation 10(8) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002) (Government Notice No 417 of 26 March 2020). Service providers providing zero-rating
include electronic communications service licensees, i.e. mobile network operators and internet service providers," added the Minister.