Yusuf Cassim MP,
DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training:
The DA governed Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) SRC, together with the University’s management, have successfully raised R9.8 million for students who would have not been able to further their studies otherwise.
Out of the total, R4.8 million will be used to clear student debt, R1.8 million to fund final year students and R3.2 Million to fund Bachelor of Technology (Btech) students.
The DA believes that no deserving student should be prevented from furthering their education just because they cannot afford to do so.
Education and skills training is central to addressing the youth unemployment crisis.
At NMMU, the DA governed SRC, together with management, stepped in where the government continues to fail.
All universities should aim to adopt what NMMU has been successful in achieving. This could potentially benefit thousands of students who would otherwise not have been afforded an opportunity to access higher education if it were up to the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). The knock on effect for the South African economy through producing more skilled graduates will no doubt be massively positive.
National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding shortfalls mean that approximately half of financially needy but academically deserving students have not been able to further their studies.
The DA strongly believes that government can afford to accommodate these students if they get their priorities straight. We can save more than R30 billion per annum by simply cutting corruption and can save considerably more by streamlining government departments.
Furthermore, NSFAS announced last year that they will no longer be funding Btech students. This essentially blocks financially needy diploma students, many of them being young black South Africans, from accessing post graduate studies. The empty rhetoric from Minister Nzimande about a shortage of black academics is a slap in the face of the tens of thousands of talented young black students who are being shut out of post graduate studies by Minister Nzimande’s own department and government.
As long as the ANC government puts patronage before the future of our young people and South Africa, the struggle for tertiary education funding for our students will continue in perpetuity.
While we applaud the DA-governed SRC and management at NMMU in their pursuit of funding for eligible students, it is up to South Africans to hold the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, accountable for his department’s lack of commitment to finding solutions to this funding crisis that affect so many young people, particularly historically disadvantaged South Africans.
The DA will continue to fight for universal access to higher education for all deserving students.