DEPUTY MINISTER of Higher Education, Training, Science and Innovation, Buti Manamela, has commended the work of the National Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) despite certain challenges, including failure to pay students’ allowances on time.
Manamela was delivering a keynote address at the NSFAS Student Accommodation Summit held at the Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein, Free State.
The two-day summit kicked off on Monday and wraps up its business on Tuesday.
The summit is a platform for all role players to contribute to discussions related to standards, price and criteria of accommodation for NSFAS funded students to ensure future sustainable and safe accommodation.
“I don’t think we should underestimate the state impact the NSFAS has made to most households, to most families, to most individual students to ensure that they ultimately complete their academic programs on time,” said Manamela.
Manamela added: “NSFAS is central to the efforts of DHET, of making our institutions of higher learning accessible to young people from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds and enabling them to achieve the highest academic outcomes possible.”
The deputy minister reiterated that ‘a summit such as this was an appropriate platform to assess how far the institutions of learning have gone in implementing recommendations of the Ministerial Review Committee on Student Housing and the recent Framework as announced by the Minister’.
“Since the publishing of the report of the Ministerial Review Committee on Student Accommodation, our post school education and training sector has grown significantly,” he said.
Tabling down the objectives of the summit by NSFAS, CEO Andile Nongogo, said NSFAS business model was student-centered.
“Student-centered is not only about providing financing it is also about making sure that we provide value for our students. To ensure that they have all the resources to enable them to succeed. This initiative is not about going to school but ultimately contributing to the economy, their families and communities,” said Nongogo.
Nongogo said that students should stay in accommodations that is safe, sustainable and conducive.
“When we talk about suitable places that is conducive to studying, we are referring to student village concept. The student village concept is about making sure that all students needs to succeed are there,” he said.
He said one of the mistake made by his department was giving students cash.
“Sometimes as leaders we must admit when we have made mistakes. I do think that one of the mistakes we made was to give students cash. Yes, we understand that students are adults and they should make their own decisions and they should be able to learn how to use money but what we exist for as NSFAS is to provide an environment that is conducive for them to study and succeed. And of course there are certain instances where we are not going to be able to run away from providing cash. However, our focus today is that students should focus on the business of learning. We as officials should focus on creating that environment.”
One of the delegates attending the summit, Thuso Tshiloane, Group COO for ligcabho Le’Africa Properties and Stayhope Properties said that the purpose of attending the summit is to contribute in the discussions of providing safe, affordable and convenience student accommodation for South African students.
Tshiloane said that NSFAS must urgently deal with lease agreements on behalf of students.
“NSFAS should be involved in the Financial Literacy of the students because they spend more money on non-essential items than essential items that are important for their education. NSFAS should focus on working with us, the private business to create a relationship that will benefit the student livelihoods.”
Tshiloane added: “Being a young entrepreneur in this business of housing enabled me to understand the students better and be related hence so far leading a company of 450 students and over 30 employees. It has been smooth and a good working environment.”