By Onthatile Kgoadigoadi
‘I want to talk to you because I want to commit suicide’. “Probably it was a joke at first but I took it seriously when I sent him multiple texts asking him why and I actually cried because it broke my heart thinking that he was going to be the first lawyer in the family.”
“So, I asked him what are we going to do” and he said ‘there is nothing that we can do because I am depending on SASSA and I have siblings. So, who is going to take me to school, rather I commit a suicide…’ these words spoken by Kamogelo Maja’s cousin prompted her to join the #NSFASIsFailingUs Campaign.
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) had improved its application system by enabling students to apply online for the year 2017. However, it has appeared to the public that its communication has not been efficient.
The #NSFASIsFailingUs Campaign was created by Sandisiwe Maseti, a student at the University of Pretoria who majors in political science, on Monday the 6th of February.
Maseti is one of the students who have been failed by NSFAS due to its inefficiency in communication. She was denied access to register by the university before she had even received an SMS from NSFAS few days before the university’s registration closing.
“I haven’t registered yet and registrations are closing next week. How am I supposed to get funding in such a short period,” Maseti rhetorically asked in a tone that accentuates distress.
The Open Journal was given an exclusive access to review the page of #NSFASIsFailingUs on Facebook and Twitter, and there were a lot of people that had posted comments showing a similar sequence of being disappointed and stranded.
The #NSFASIsFailingUs petition has been signed by more than 2 800 students of various institutions since it was created last Monday.
President Jacob Zuma on the 2017 State Of the Nation address speech said: “All students who qualify for NSFAS and who have been accepted by universities and TVET colleges will be funded…It is for this reason that when university students expressed genuine concerns…our caring government responded appropriately… [therefore] we are ensuring that our deserving students can study without fearing that past debts will prevent them from finishing their studies.”
Despite such affirmative and wisely spoken words by President Jacob Zuma, the number of discontent students seem to mount in frustration as their envisioned bright future seem to be shattered.
“I applied for NSFAS since last year so, recently when I checked they(NSFAS) said my application has not yet been evaluated, said Maja’s cousin, Simon.
“A few days later, when I checked they said they are waiting for the availability of funds [ yet I applied last year] and they only told me now that they don’t have money. Now I am being denied education for reasons that I do not know of,” he added.
Maseti said the #NSFASIsFailingUs campaign was created with the objectives to expose the inefficiency in communication between NSFAS and students.
She added that “the government needs to speed up the communication and further consider the middle-class issue taking the historical context of South Africa into consideration.”