Desperate Fort Hare students call on Blade to fast-track funds
Desperate University of Fort Hare students are calling on higher education minister Blade Nzimande to fast-track payment of their allowances and virtual learning resources.
This includes funds from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and Funza Lushaka.
UFH student leader Mbali Silimela said “drastic measures” were needed as students were suffering.
“Communication with university management has fallen on deaf ears. So we made contact with the NSFAS head office to see what the delays were. The NSFAS office said they were waiting for the university to send registration data which would permit them to make payments.
“Some students are orphaned, they have no parents and no relatives they can count on. The allowances go a long way and are much needed.”
UFH spokesperson Tandi Mapukata said management had met with the interim SRC on Tuesday and a solution was agreed upon.
“Student leaders are fully aware that allowances are being paid out. Like all citizens, staff in the financial aid department were on lockdown until the end of May, when the country migrated to level three risk alert.”
“They are back in their offices now and are doing their best to catch up with the backlog. Where there are outstanding queries with NSFAS, those allowances cannot be paid out until NSFAS gives the go-ahead,” Mapukata said.
Mapukata said the Funza Lushaka student allowances faced the same backlog and payment of all student allowances were being “prioritised”.
Silimela said students had not received data or laptops, as promised by the university, to engage in virtual learning.
“We actually don’t know anything about learning. We spent most of the first few months of the year striking against financial and academic exclusion.
“As seniors we can try to make do but what about first-year students?” Silimela said.
Mapukata said the order for the laptops had been placed.
“There is a very high demand for these gadgets in the country, so there’s no stock available. Our initial estimation was that it would take six to eight weeks for the order to arrive. We are still within that window period.”
Mapukata said students had been receiving data since June 1.
On Wednesday some students took to social media, using the hashtag #UFHMustFall, to voice their frustrations.
@Iminathi22 wrote: “We are hungry and we are eager to learn, We want to study but Fort Hare is failing us. We haven't received data, laptops and allowances.”
@ViweNgoloti wrote: “No data, no laptops, no e-learning, no allowances, no f*kol.”
@YandiswaMana tweeted: “Being one of the students in this institution has been one of my dreams since childhood. But now that I am registered student in this university, I regret my decision of applying here.”
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