This is according to Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini who briefed media in Pretoria on Monday. The briefing provided an update on the progress made by the Social Protection, Community and Human Development Cluster towards achieving the goals of the NDP: Vision 2030.
The decision supports the National Development Plan (NDP) Vision 2030 of creating an inclusive social protection system that addresses all areas of vulnerability and is responsive to the needs, realities, conditions and livelihoods of those who are most at risk.
The Departments of Social Development and Basic Education have partnered with the NSFAS to ensure that learners from poor and vulnerable families have access to funding so they can further their studies.
This collaboration is aligned to the Protocol Agreement on Linking Social Protection Administrative Data Systems for Poor and Vulnerable Learners.
“The aim is to track, locate and improve the wellbeing of poor and vulnerable learners with a host of social protection services.
“This simply means that support and money follows the learner. Secondly, few vulnerable and poor learners apply for financial assistance,” said the Minister.
This year, 188 687 learners who sat for their matric examinations received a social grant. Of this number, 173 085 receive the Child Support Grant, while 14 926 receive the Foster Child Grant and 676 are on the Disability Grant.
The Social Development Department estimated that about 56 958 social grant recipients are attending Quintile 4 and 5 schools.
NSFAS was initiated by government to offer tertiary education financial assistance to South African students whose parents or guardians cannot afford tertiary education.
Minister Dlamini said the Department of Higher Education and Training has taken note of the recent decision by some universities around the country, including the University of the Witwatersrand and University of Stellenbosch, to adjust fees within the 8% capped fee adjustments for 2017.
“Based on the government subsidy funding model for universities, the department has calculated that some institutions may experience a shortfall in income in the 2017 academic year due to the 0% fee adjustment in 2016 and the compounded effect of inflation.
“Therefore, all affected institutions are faced with the task of implementing cost-cutting measures to ensure their sustainability. This is an interim measure as longer term solution to higher education funding is still being sought,” said the Minister.
Although NSFAS has done much to deal with the problem of funding to support poor students, Minister Dlamini said the remaining challenge is that working and middle class income students cannot be fully funded.
“Substantial work has been done by the [department] since the review of NSFAS in 2010, culminating in the proposal of Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP).
“The ISFAP model will be piloted at six universities and one Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College in 2017. The pilot will fund the studies of around 2 000 students for the duration of their studies.”
She said the lessons learnt from this pilot, the comments received from the public consultation process, the results of the feasibility study and the recommendations of the Presidential Fees Commission, will feed into the development of the final model.