SA ‘will keep growing student funding’

4 July 2012

South Africa will ensure that its funding for poor students as well as strong performers at the country’s universities and colleges increases every year, says Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande.

He was speaking at the Cosatu Education and Skills Conference in Benoni, east of Johannesburg on Tuesday.

According to the Department of Higher Education and Training, state funding for South African students grew from R2.375-billion in 2008 to R6-billion in 2011.

In addition, R50-million has been made available for postgraduate scholarships, and R63-million for students with disabilities, in 2011/12.

Many Further Education and Training (FET) college students who would normally have qualified for a National Student Financial Aid Scheme of SA loan, now no longer have to pay fees and, in many cases, also get their accommodation or transport subsidised.

Expanding workplace-based training opportunities

“An important feature of our skills development policies is our emphasis on expanding workplace-based training opportunities to complement classroom-based education,” Nzimande said.

“Many programmes require learners to have experience in workshops as well as in workplaces in order to qualify.”

Workplaces which are prepared to accept learners are often in short supply, and one of the department’s main drives is to ensure that more employers provide opportunities for apprentices, learners, interns, cadets and articled clerks.

New artisan learners on the increase

Nzimande said the number of new artisan learners had now started to increase again after a long decline from the mid-1980s.

He said the numbers of people passing their trade tests to qualify as artisans had more than doubled in the last four years, from 6 030 in 2007/08 to 13 168 in 2011/12.

He told conference delegates that the continued growth in these numbers was essential if South Africa was to successfully undertake its planned strategic infrastructure projects and to develop the peripheral industries needed to complement them.