Youth body welcomes NSFAS report

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cape Town - The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) on Wednesday described the recommendations to transform the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) as a step in the right direction.

NYDA chairperson Andile Lungisa said the report, tabled by an expert panel appointed by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande to review the NSFAS, vindicates the youth body's position that the scheme was wrong to blacklist students who had not repaid their loans.

"At the level of NYDA we are very happy especially on the issue of blacklisting people; we have always said this was wrong.

"As NYDA we believe this practice (blacklisting) makes it difficult for young people to kick-start their lives as they are blacklisted even before they start working," said Lungisa.

The panel, led by Professor Marcus Balintulo tabled its report on Tuesday in which it recommended the expansion of the scheme to cater for what it termed the "missing middle" or students whose parents earn over R122 000 per annum but can still cannot afford to finance tertiary education.

NSFAS currently only awards study loans and bursaries to applicants whose household income is less than R122 000 per annum.

Nzimande said the scheme should be broadened to cater for more needy students as young people especially in rural areas, were still struggling to access the funds.

The NYDA and the Union of Student Representative Councils were part of a team that convened a summit last year to advise Nzimande on what should form part of the review report.

The minister is expected to table the report to Cabinet for discussion and a decision is likely to be taken towards the end of the year.