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NSFAS ‘alarmed’ after Mpumalanga students kicked out of residences

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PHOTO : TimesLIVE-Mandla Khoza

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) on Wednesday said it was “concerned and alarmed” that students had been left to find accommodation in public libraries and police stations.

Students from Ehlanzeni TVET College’s Mapulaneng campus in Acornhoek, Mpumalanga, were forced onto the street by landlords who demanded rent money. They sought shelter at Acornhoek police station on Sunday evening.

Mpumalanga News reported that the students slept on benches and floors at the station. “We ran for shelter to the police station for safety purposes and we were allowed to sleep there on Sunday,” students told the publication.

According to NSFAS, upfront allowance payments were made to institutions in the first disbursement run in February 2019. The amount was sent to colleges to pay out to students.

“In some cases, colleges requested NSFAS to take over the payments of allowances via the NSFAS Wallet as they were struggling to pay all the students. The upfront payment of R1, 950 per student was intended to be applied for two months’ transport and personal care,” the scheme said.

However, students have been left in the lurch.

Suzan Mbazima, secretary of South African Students Congress (Sasco) at the Mapulaneng campus, told SowetanLIVE: “Yes, we are sleeping here at the police station. We try by all means to find a safe place to sleep, like the police station.

“We are in this situation because we haven’t got our money to pay private residence for the past three months.

“Landlords last week decided to chase students out and for our safety now we thank the police, who opened their doors – but we are upset with the college and other authorities, who should make sure our money is paid on time.” 

Several students flocked to the campus on Monday evening to sleep in the admin block and the library.

NSFAS said they are in the process of paying “top-up allowances” for two months of students’ private accommodation. It said that to make accurate accommodation payments, registration declarations were required from colleges.

Ehlanzeni had forwarded an updated declaration – but the information for students from Mapulaneng and Barberton campuses was incomplete.  

According to the scheme, 137 students from Mapulaneng had since received allowances.

Scheme administrator Randall Carolissen said that an agreement had been reached that NSFAS students would not be required to pay deposits for accommodation.

“Furthermore, we emphasise the need for all private accommodation service providers to obtain institutional accreditation to ensure that the welfare of students remains a priority,” said Carolissen.

“At the time of this press release, campus management was engaging with landlords to resolve this matter.”

Meanwhile, NSFAS students are protesting nationally over allowances. Disruptions at Unisa’s Sunnyside campus in Pretoria entered a second day on Wednesday.

Unisa students in the Eastern Cape rallied behind their counterparts and embarked on a regional strike. Avela Mpatane, Unisa SRC secretary in the Eastern Cape, said NSFAS had failed to provide students with textbooks and laptops and refused to refund students who had paid their own tuition fees.

“The SRC and student structures resolved that NSFAS management of Unisa must come to the Eastern Cape to address students and resolve challenges immediately,” said  Mpatane.

SOURCE- TimesLIVE

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Universities

DHET: National skills conference

Key players that contributes to South Africa’s skills and development came together to discuss the future of South Africa’s qualified, unemployed and unskilled youth

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The National Skills Authority together with the Department of Higher Education and Training held the National Skills Development conference at the Birchwood hotel in Boksburg.

Prominent public figures and contributors of youth skills,professional and educational development- skills development stakeholders from Quality Councils, SETAs, Government, Business, Labour, Education and Training Providers, Community Constituencies, Provincial Skills Development Forums (PSDFs), Research Institutions, Professional Bodies and the general public were attended.

Taking that a large population of the youth remains unemployed, even with a large number of qualified students still seeking employment, the skills development stakeholders took time time to further discuss the underlying issues of South Africa’s youth.

The plan is to ensure that these key role players within the industry stand by the National Development programme so to ensure that by 2030 the youth South Africa experience a South Africa where amongst other things:

  • skills development system enhance productive and decent work for current and future socio-economic growth and development
  • Deepening the understanding of opportunities so that post school education and training institutions and skills development bodies co-exist and collaborate
  • Creating a platform for a strengthened social partnership model for planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of skills development
  • Positioning skills development to address rising youth unemployment

The aim of the NDP is to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. According to the plan, “South Africa can realise these goals by drawing on the energies of its people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity of the state, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society”.

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Finding your entertainment in Tourism

The Department of Tourism looks to have the South African youth as not only tourism entrepreneurs but contributors to the growth of the country’s tourism sector.

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It’s official South Africa is the top travel destination on the continent!

A known fact about Tourism is that it contributes greatly to the countries economy and that South Africa is the top tourism economy in Africa. With that being said, it only makes it twice as beneficial if the tourism sites are enjoyed by both locals and tourists from all over the world.

The Department of Tourism has long grasped the potential of travel and tourism and sees South Africa’s tourism sites as an opportunity for the youth to diversify their ‘social tastes’.

” There is quite a lot of other things to do which are cheaper a lot affordable, that are as entertaining as their normal lives. The South African youth needs to use tourism sites as other means of entertainment, said Blessing Manale, head of communication in the Department of Tourism.

Considering that Gauteng has the largest population of students, the Tourism Department recently launched the “First Timer Campaign” which also looks to introduce students coming into Gauteng to take part in the tourism spaces and experience what these sites have to offer.

In Manale’s view ,Tourism sites such as Freedom Park in Pretoria and Solomon Mhlangu Square, Vilakazi street in soweto, Capture Sites in KZN can be utilised and provide that fun element that the youth need and at same time educate about South Africa’s history.

“The entire country is available for young people, for those that are shooting 4 minute movies, for those doing music videos and birthdays. The country is abundant with tourism facilities”, Manale said.

The first timer campaign encourages youth to experience gauteng,places like the Vaal area, Maboneng, Ekurhuleni as well heritage sites and museums which the Department looks to turn into places of enjoyment.

” Looking to the future, I believe that Travel & Tourism is South Africa’s greatest resource and the country’s strategy for expansion which priorities regional integration, environment sustainability and putting the community at the heart of decisions will make for a successful combination”, Said Gloria Guevara,WTT president and CEO.

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Universities

UFS, higher-education institution which embraces students with various disabilities

Disability support taken up a few notches on Qwaqwa Campus.

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Front, from the left: Joseph Sesing, Martie Miranda (Head of CUADS), Grace Kene, Elisa Sising, Ellen Motaung, Lize Botha. Back, from the left: Tigo Vorster, Thoko Thulo, Charity Morrison, Florina Motsamai, Mpho Mmusi.

The Centre for Universal Access and Disability Support – (CUADS) has recently opened a permanent office on the QwaQwa campus. The centre aims to ensure that the University of the Free State increasingly becomes a universally accessible higher-education institution which embraces students with various disabilities.

Photo: Thabo Kessah
Thokozile Thulo

Thokozile Thulo, CUADS Assistant Officer at Qwaqwa said: “Our focus has changed from ‘special’ accommodation for individuals to the creation of a learning environment that is welcoming and empowering to all students. Integrated learning and education methodologies and processes are being researched and developed to create more awareness among lecturing staff. This incorporates universal design, faculty instruction and curricula.” 

The CUADS office assists students to gain access to study courses, learning materials, various buildings and residences, computer facilities and specialised exams and tests. For visually-impaired students, study material and textbooks in Braille, audio, e-text or enlarged format are provided. 

The office also supports students with various psychosocial and chronic conditions such as epilepsy and panic disorder, as well as learning difficulties such as dyslexia and hyperactivity. “In addition, we support students with special arrangements such as extra time for tests and exams,” said Thokozile.

SOURCE– UFS (Thabo Kessah)

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