Education / 17 January 2022, 16:34pm/ Mandla Nkosi
Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela checking the student application progress with Nsfas official in Bohlokong Bethlehem: Image by Morena Lephepelo
Bethlehem: The National Student Financial Aid Scheme have used their last minute opportunity to help students from poverty stricken communities of the eastern Free State.
The financial aid scheme together with the office of the Premier Sisi Ntombela descended to Bohlokong, Bethleheng in Dihlabeng to help students and current matric pupils to apply for funding.
According to Ntombela the paramount objective of the applications drive, is to ensure that no student is left behind.
As government we want to ensure our motto “Opening the doors of learning and leaving no child behind” becomes a reality at every level of education including in institutions of higher learning,” says Ntombela
Beyond lip service, NSFAS and the provincial government have made a commitment to make tangible steps to see this reality find expression in every community across the province.
She adds that “It is our duty as a caring government to help these young men and women access funding to continue their studies at different institutions of higher learning. Our learners, over the years, to their credit, kept their end of the bargain by not only passing their examinations, but doing so with flying colours. The ball is now in our court to ensure that those who need assistance and are deserving of such, receive it.”
She believes that NSFAS engagement with applications was important as it was about the future of those who eyes to tap into higher education.
“The National Student Financial Aid outreach programme is therefore an important milestone, which will help us to reach every deserving learner in all of our districts and get them started on their way to higher education.
Many of our youth have, in the past, missed out on these great opportunities, and that was not due to lack of trying, but simply because they did not have all the information that could have and should have assisted them. Unfortunately, some of them missed out.” Said Ntombela
NSFAS Chairperson, Ernest Khosa, has encouraged young people to utilise this opportunity as it will help them to open doors of learning and help them to realise their dreams.
Meanwhile since applications for 2022 opened in November last year. The scheme has received over 600 000 applications for students wanting to further their studies in all 50 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and 26 public universities. Of these, at least 505 000 are said to be first-time applicants.
However, a litany of problems with the application system were brought to the fore by frustrated students, who told NSFAS officials that they feared missing out on the funding opportunity because of an alleged flawed system.
These include, and are not limited to, unanswered helplines, outstanding verification SMSes, unexpected server errors and locked user profiles.
Some students claimed that their IDs were being rejected by the system and that they found it difficult to upload documents to complete applications. Others claim to have not received their meal, travel and personal care allowances since 2020.
Kamohelo Motaung she is a first time applicant who wants to study Medicine at UFS this year, said she had been struggling to get her application acknowledged since November last year, but she was happy that finally her application was approved.
“It has been a frustrating journey since my family cannot afford to pay for my studies. I have tried unsuccessfully to get my application processed last year and this past few days it has just been stressful,” she said. “But now am happy that Mme Ntombela came with Nsfas to us things became easy and am glad my application is approved”
Motaung matriculated in 2020, but due to lack of funds and failure to process her application in time due to NSFAS problematic system she couldn’t manage to continue with her studies last year.
Kagisho Mamabolo, NSFAS Spokesperson, told The Insider that the outreach programme will help to fast track the applications, he also indicated that deadline for applications for the student financial aid had been extended after consulting with various stakeholders.
“To date 182 567 applicants were confirmed eligible for funding instantly,” he said.