R150m financial aid boost for students

11 January 2011

South Africa has allocated an additional R150-million to its National Student Financial Aid Scheme to help tackle the backlog of scarce skills in the country.

Making the announcement in Pretoria on Monday, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said that, through the National Skills Fund, the government had set aside R22.9-million for funding 820 first-year students and R7-million for a bursary scheme targeting rural students who did exceptionally well in the 2010 Grade 12 exams.

R21-million had been set aside for 300 first-year bursaries for students with disabilities, with the balance of R99.1-million to be allocated to students who were already studying in fields of scarce skills.

Career Wise bursaries

The National Skills Fund will also be allocating R100-million Career Wise bursaries in the following categories:

  • R17-million to fund 258 first-year students.
  • R4-million for the Dipaleseng Special Bursary Scheme.
  • R4.6-million for 67 first-year bursaries.
  • R11.5-million to support 245 first-year students pursuing studies in chartered accountancy at the University of Fort Hare.

In a bid to ease access to Further Education and Training colleges and help the country to meet its needs for intermediate and technical skills, hard-working students from poor families would this year be exempted from paying academic fees.

The bursary, to be allocated to students whose parents earn a combined salary of R122 000 per annum, will cover tuition, accommodation, meals and transport costs.

However, Nzimande called on recipients to work hard, as the department will be monitoring their performances, warning that if they failed to produce good marks, the bursary would be forfeited.

“This is not a free ride, we require students to work hard,” he said. “You can’t continue to get a bursary if you don’t deliver.”

Career guidance

Nzimande also announced that his department and the South African Qualifications Authority had entered into a partnership with the SABC to provide pupils with information on career guidance.

The career information will be broadcast on all Nguni radio stations.

“Our aim is to ensure that information flows to rural schools and that no learners go to school without such information. It should be made available earlier in their schooling careers.”

Pupils and ex-pupils can get advice from the career advice website www.careerhelp.org.za or from the Career Advice Helpline on 0860 111 673. The helpline can also be contacted via SMS on 072 2045 056 or by e-mailing help@nqf.org.za.

Source: BuaNews