DA pledges to do everything in their power to find out why NSFAS grants haven’t been paid
Jan Bornman | 2017-03-30 15:53:36.0
Wits University students stroll in front of the Great Hall on the way to their resident rooms. File Photo.
Image by: SIHLE MAKU
Thousands of students have been left in the dark about their academic futures as they have yet to receive their national student financial aid scheme grants – nearly four months into the year.
The lengthy delays‚ which the DA estimated could affect as many as 200 000 students‚ has seen the University of Free State’s QwaQwa campus indefinitely shut down this week‚ while the University of Venda has suspended “all services” at the institution.
Limpopo police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said four students had been arrested at the University of Venda for public violence‚ with public order policing monitoring the area.
In a statement this week‚ the DA said it would write to the chair of the portfolio committee to request that it summon NSFAS chair‚ Sizwe Nxasana‚ to the committee to explain how students still hadn’t been paid.
“[On Tuesday] the Portfolio Committee could not meet on the campus of the University of Venda due to violent protests‚ triggered by the delays in the payment of NSFAS grants. These grants‚ distributed through the ‘sBux’ voucher system‚ are used by thousands of students all over the country to pay for private accommodation‚ food‚ books and travel‚” the DA said in the statement.
It said a “technical problem” had led to the inability to make these payments.
“As it stands‚ there is an entire generation of young people who have been lost because of the poor quality of basic education in South Africa. We cannot allow their opportunity for higher education to also be jeopardised.
“We will do everything in our power to try to find out what has led to this crisis and prevent it from escalating‚” the statement said.
A student at Unisa‚ who requested to remain anonymous‚ said he hadn’t received any of the allowances he should have as a NSFAS beneficiary‚ which includes money to buy textbooks. “I have been calling them for updates every week‚ for the past six weeks to get updates.”
“It’s very stressful looking at my study guides‚ the amount of work I have to cover. I have assignments‚ and tests that are looming‚” he said.
“It is a nightmare‚ because the institution is continuing with the academic programme and yet we need to pass current tests to get exam entry without the textbooks‚” he said.
University of Venda spokesperson Takalani Dzaga said students at the university were protesting over the non-payment of textbook and food allowances by NSFAS.
“What we’ve done is we’ve suspended all services. We’re engaging with students and they’re maintaining they can’t go back to class until this issue is resolved‚” he said.
Dzaga said students had indicated they would return to class “today‚ if they receive the payments today”‚ however‚ he said NSFAS said it would try and resolve the issue by the end of the week.
University of Free State spokesperson Lacea Loader confirmed that the university’s QwaQwa campus had been shutdown “until further notice”‚ but the Bloemfontein campus hadn’t been affected by student protests over the payment of NSFAS payments.
– TMG Digital/The Times