Nzimande defends govt’s student aid scheme

2014-02-08 00:00

MINISTER of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande, yesterday defended the State’s student aid scheme after weeks of campus protests over it.

Speaking at the launch of the KwaZulu-Natal Education Alliance in Durban yesterday, Nzimande claimed President Jacob Zuma’s administration had spent more on education than any other.

“No matter who says what, this government of Msholozi [President Jacob Zuma] has increased the money [financial aid] more than any other government,” Nzimande said.

He said many poor students could now afford to further their studies thanks to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), whose funding had been increased to R9,3 billion today from R3,9 billion in 2009.

Nzimande did, however, admit that the scheme could not cover everyone.

“But it still doesn’t mean that it’s not enough because the majority of poor students who register at university and colleges will be assisted by it.”

Universities across the country have been on the rampage over the NSFAS over the last two weeks. Durban University of Technology was shut down for about 10 days over protests relating to the scheme.

On Thursday, seven students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the Pietermaritzburg campus were arrested after their protest turned violent over similar issues.

Yesterday, the minister condemned violent protests.

“Please don’t burn our colleges because you’re undermining the work of the government,” he said.

Meanwhile, the department has vowed to build new FET colleges in Greytown and Nkandla and to renovate colleges at Umzimkhulu and Nongoma.

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