Government Urged To Increase Accessibility Of NSFAS Bursaries
With regard to funding for higher education, the government has made great strides in recent years. However, many have stated that more must be done to guarantee that all young people in South Africa have access to education.
During his political report at the ANC National Conference last Friday, 16 December, President Cyril Ramaphosa reflected on the governments achievements and growth with regards to giving students access to higher education.
“The 54th National Conference resolved to improve access to higher education through, among other interventions, the provision of free higher education for students from poor and working-class backgrounds,” said the President.
Ramaphosa stated that funding for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) students from poor and working-class backgrounds rose from R21 billion in 2018 to R38,6 billion in 2021.
He also highlighted that the total number of students funded increased from 580 000 to 770 000 over the same period adding that the expansion of access to higher education is a great achievement that will benefit the economy and the country for many years to come.
Together with the work being done to strengthen basic education, the growth of post-school education will ignite the skills revolution that we have so often spoken about, and we must now embark in a focused manner upon identifying the key skills that our economy needs and deploy young people to acquire those skills.
Reacting to Ramaphosa’s statement, Activist Fasiha Hassan expressed that a lot of young people are still unable to access university due to lack of funding.
Currently, the main requirement to be eligible for government funding through NSFAS is to have a combined household income of R350 000 or less per annum. However, a large number of students do not meet this NSFAS requirement but at the same time cannot afford to pay for their studies.
Hassan says that the increase in funding for poor students is welcomed but government stills need to provide more resources to make access to higher education possible for all students wanting to further their education.
Prior to the Fees Must Fall movement, NSFAS was a loan and now it is a grant. That is a big victory for fees must fall. However, the reality is that higher education is still chronically under-funded.
Ramaphosa added that ensure that skills training is linked directly to the demand in the economy, the government is pioneering a fundamentally different approach to skills development for unemployed youth in the country.