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College students demand answers on NSFAS allowances

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The students have drawn up a petition calling for their money to be released by this week.

NORTHERN Cape Urban TVET College students in Kimberley have demanded answers regarding their unpaid (National Student Financial Aid Scheme) NSFAS allowances. 

This is after their student representative council (SRC) failed to give them definite answers about the delay in the payment of the funds.

The students said on Monday that students from other colleges had received their funds while only a few students from the Moremogolo, Phatsimang and City campuses had been paid. 

The students have drawn up a petition calling for their money to be released by this week.

According to the SRC, attempts to engage with the college management about the non-payment of allowances have reached a dead end.

The SRC on Monday accused management of not taking them seriously and playing “hide and seek” by ignoring their calls.

The SRC said it had made good progress earlier this year with regard to the outstanding payments for some students who had not yet received their allowances since the beginning of this year.

The students took to the streets in February over the delayed NSFAS allowances.

However, according to the SRC, the breakdown in communication with college management started after Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced that NSFAS payments would continue to be processed regardless of the lockdown period. 

“To our surprise we realised that only a minority of students had been paid and there was no explanation as to why. We were even more surprised when NSFAS confirmed to us that they paid all money, including remittances, to all colleges. When we tried to confront college management, they evaded our calls,” said an SRC member who wanted to remain anonymous. 

The SRC confirmed the existence of a petition which has been signed by more than 500 students.

“We e-mailed the petition to the Students Support Structure (SSS) manager, Boston Lecholo, and the deputy principal, Elisabeth Musi, who have both denied receiving the petition.” 

The SRC threatened to expose all the alleged discrepancies relating to the continued non- or delayed payment of students.

“What is happening is not fair as the students depend on those funds. Some also risk losing their accommodation because the landlords heard that NSFAS had paid out the money and they also want to be paid,” the SRC stated.

An affected student from Moremogolo Campus, Agisang Letang from Pampierstad, said that the continuous struggle to get her NSFS funds was exhausting and she was regarded as a liar by her landlord.

“I feel so guilty because I came home for the lockdown period but my belongings are still in Kimberley. My landlord sent me a WhatsApp asking about the payment and it sounded like I was hiding away as he mentioned that he heard that the colleges had been paid. I tried to explain the situation to him but I could feel that he did not believe me,” said Letang.

“College management is not treating us fairly because the impression has been created that students are bad payers. They need to be exposed for handling our money recklessly.”

“We are being paid late in the second quarter but what about those students who did not even receive their funds yet for the first quarter. Some of them had to drop out and go back home,” another student pointed out.

“They are eating our money and no one seems to care or tell us what is happening.”

The Student Support Structure manager said he was not allowed to comment on the matter, while the deputy principal referred media enquiries to the college principal, whose cellphone remained unanswered.