NSFAS, DHET slammed for failure to implement free higher education at TVET colleges

Thabo Mohlala

The South African Further Education and Training Association has slammed the National Students Financial Aid Scheme and the Department of Higher Education and Training for failing to co-ordinate the implementation of free education announced by President Jacob Zuma in December last year.

The association’s deputy-president, Joel Mamabolo, told 702 radio station on Friday that failure by the organisations not only frustrate the students and the TVET college management but also threatens to derail the entire registration process.

Mamabolo attributed the recent chaos where some students got hurt during a stampede at Capricorn TVET College in Limpopo and the influx of students at Motheo TVET College to the DHET’s inability to provide direction on the issue.

“NSFAS has still not yet released the 2018 guidelines that speak to the R350 000 threshold announced by the President of the country so it frustrates the students and the college management on how to arrange things internally. And most college management opt to revert to the old system where they demand registration or what is commonly known as upfront payment from student. And this is what is most frustrating to us because you can’t demand upfront payment while the president has just announced free higher education,” said Mamabolo.

He said in the absence of clear guidelines every college management does as it pleases.

Colleges apply different admission criteria instead of a single uniform approach.

And this does not add up, said Mamabolo, because we all fall under the DHET.

“The DHET is also not proactive on the matter because if it was, NSFAS would be clear about how to implement the revised threshold,” he said.

Mamabolo also lambasted some college management for undermining the student representative councils. He said most college management decided not to engage SRC leadership in their institutions particularly when they take decisions [registration] and they do so deliberately because they know these decisions are irrational.

“Students only come to know about these decisions during registration while the leadership is left completely in the dark about their implementation,” Mamabolo said.

He said they met the DHET on Tuesday where they raised all these issues but up to so far there is no clear indication if the department will address them. He said the DHET is testing their patience and they will be meeting very soon and they are likely to adopt a radical stand on the matter.

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