MEC must explain delayed bursary approvals

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition

Education MEC Reginah Mhaule must explain the lengthy and unnecessary delay in the final approval of bursary applications, and why they were only completed a mere two days ago.

Concerned parents of would-be students recently contacted the DA informing us that bursary applications submitted in September last year were not yet approved. With university registration well under way across the country, Mpumalanga’s learners have to deal with the uncertainty of whether the door to quality education will be opened, or remain shut.

The DA has subsequently established that bursaries have finally been approved by the bursary committee and departments informed of the names of the successful applicants to be notified. This is a far cry from MEC Mhaule’s promise on 3 January during the matric results announcement that “the province will issue bursaries to qualifying learners who applied on time and received admission letters from their universities of choice. These will be confirmed on the 9th of January and upon receipt of statement of results.”

So what was the delay? MEC Mhaule stated during her 2012/13 budget speech that all departments’ bursary schemes have been centralised and would be dealt with by the provincial bursary committee according to the department’s policy. She called on learners to apply and register for university timeously, yet the committee failed in fulfilling its end of the bargain.

What the MEC does not realise is the damage and inconvenience this delay caused prospective students, who applied to universities, were accepted, and had no idea whether their places were secured.

MEC Mhaule must explain the causes of the delays, and why applicants had to wait for months on end before a decision was made. To this end, the DA will submit parliamentary questions seeking an explanation, as well as whether the department will inform the universities of the delays, and that funds were transferred in time. We will also ask the MEC for a detailed analysis of all bursaries from all government departments and to whom (learners and officials) they were allocated.

The Department of Education has once again failed the youth of Mpumalanga, first by the quality of the matric pass rate it produced, and secondly by disadvantaging the few who have a chance at attaining a better life.

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