Government has allocated a “fee adjustment grant” to assist students from poor, working class and missing middle households to pay for increases of up to 8% on the 2017 higher education fees.
Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said this when she led a media briefing of the Social Protection, Community and Human Development Cluster in Cape Town, on Tuesday.
“This will be the first time in the history of post-school education and training that families with income levels above the NSFAS-Threshold, but who still find post-school education difficult to afford, will be assisted,” she said.
The Minister’s statement comes after Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande held a series of engagements with stakeholders in the sector, including students and vice chancellors and unions on ensuring stability in the education system.
The talks also touched on the readiness of the system for the 2017 academic year as well as interventions that were in place to assist university and TVET students financially in 2017.
She said it was on this basis that government committed to funding the 2017 fee adjustments for poor, working class and missing middle students at universities and TVET colleges, whose family incomes are below the R600 000 ceiling.
“To qualify for the grant, university students must apply for the 2017 fee adjustment grant though a form obtainable from their institutions.
“This grant will benefit more than 75% of university and TVET college students, and in some institutions, more than 90% of students will benefit.
“Approximately half of the grant will be paid by government to universities in the first quarter of the year to assist them with their cash flows.”
The Minister said all other students would be expected to pay their upfront registration fees for 2017.
“All universities and colleges will develop humane and transparent debt management and relief processes to assist academically successful ‘missing middle’ students who have outstanding student debt to register in 2017, where this is possible.”
African learners improving in Maths and Science
The Minister said, meanwhile, that according to the National Senior Certificate examination, African learners are showing signs of improvement in their Mathematics and Physical Science performance.
She said in 2016, 33 511 learners obtained a mark of 60% and above in Mathematics.
“Of this figure, 19 790 are African learners. In case of Physical Science, 28 511 obtained a mark of 60% and above.”
“Eighteen thousand seven hundred and thirty two (18 732) learners are African learners,” she said.
The Minister said improved performance showed that there is now a greater stability in curriculum implementation, and the focus going forward will be on professional development of teachers, driven by government’s 140 Teacher Centres in all the nine provinces.