THE South African Students Congress has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to establish a student bank to offer grants to entrepreneurs and facilitate loan schemes to struggling students, substantially guaranteed by government but with some of the risk shared by the banks.
The ANC-aligned student movement celebrated its 29th year anniversary at the weekend.
SASCO’s president Bamanye Matiwane said a student bank would make life easier for students as it would understand financial obligations and pressures experienced by students.
“We want a student bank that can assist students but not take from students. A student bank that understands that before getting NSFAS, you do not have anything as a student. We want a student bank that can assist students but not take from students,” said Matiwane.
SASCO also called on government to change the criteria for students qualifying for the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
“We demand the increase of the NFSAFS threshold from 350 000 to 600 000 per annum we demand the dissolution of councils of historically disadvantaged universities that have failed to transform the institutions of higher learning we demand the speedy appointment of the NFSAS board we demand the speedy delivery of laptops to all children of leaders from working-class backgrounds transformation of TVET colleges to be institutions of choice,” said Matiwane.
Currently, only students whose household annual income is below R350,000 per annum are eligible for NSFAS funding.
However, SASCO is demanding that any SA student whose household income is below R600 000 a year qualifies for government-sponsored funding through NSFAS.
As students were expected to study from home during the lockdown, Minister Blade Nzimande had announced that some students would receive laptops via NSFAS, however, not all students have received them.
“We demand the speedy delivery of laptops to all disadvantaged students,” said Matiwane.
With regards to the NSFAS, SASCO called for the urgent appointment of the board.
Nzimande in July called for the public to nominate candidates to join the NSFAS board.
The board must consist of 18 members, 13 of which must be appointed by the Minister, including the Chairperson, four co-opted by the board and one, the Executive Officer of the NSFAS.
Nominations were closed last month and the public awaits the appointment of the new board.
In his address to SASCO celebrations on Sunday, Ramaphosa called on the youth to step up because the ANC needs to have highly-educated people who can achieve the vision of a prosperous and inclusive society..
“We need young people who are conscience, whose level of consciousness is at a very high-level conscience of the task at hand and who will participate both in the conceptualisation and implementation of our program of fundamental socio-economic transformation. SASCO also has an immense role to play in the creation of conscience and mobilised citizenry on which the success of the national democratic revolution is dependent,” said Ramaphosa.
COSATU send a message of support to SASCO, saying the student movement should continue to fight for financial access for poor students and to decisively advance the campaign for the scrapping of historical debt of particularly young workers, that has relegated a majority of them into a permanent debt trap.
“This organisation continues to be at the heart of the struggle for justice and equality as shown by their role during the #FeesMustFall campaign. While waging this important campaign about the access and the funding of higher education; SASCO also proved to be reliable allies of workers by also championing the insourcing of outsourced services, therefore, pushing the federation’s campaign for the creation of decent work in higher education institutions,” COSATU said in a statement.
(COMPILED BY INSIDE EDUCATION STAFF)