Students Are Struggling To Get Teacher Bursaries

Several social media reports began to emerge early in April of students saying that they had not yet received their Funza Lushaka bursary. They were due to be paid the bursary in the beginning of April but have not yet received any funding. This bursary system is associated with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), which is responsible for the disbursement of the bursary.

The Funza Lushaka bursary programme aids students to complete a teaching qualification. The recipients of the bursary will have to teach at a public school for the amount of years which they received the bursary.

Several students say they have not yet received their Funza Lushaka payments, which were supposed to be paid out at the beginning of April.

A third-year teaching student who has been receiving the bursary since his second-year of studying says he has not yet received the funding he was supposed to get.

“I am currently not using NSFAS. I’m using Funza Lushaka which is under NSFAS. It started from last year. We haven’t received books and food allowances, and we are still having outstanding fees.”

He says both the NSFAS and SRC (Student Representative Council) on his campus have been unable to help, saying it is over their heads and that the problem is at the head office.

He was promised that the full amount would be paid to him by April.

Some students have been allocated their book and meal allowance while others have not received any of their allowances.

Another student who has been affected by this problem says: “We are Funza beneficiaries and we are supposed to get our allocations – the meal and book- but no allocations have been made. So since the beginning of the year, they told us we going to get the money on the 1st of April but now it’s past that date and we are starving.”

She says the education officer at the university says they are waiting for an email with the list of the beneficiaries which they have not received as of yet. She was first a NSFAS beneficiary and got the Funza bursary while on NSFAS.

“This whole issue with us not being allocated our money is really affecting us academic wise because we cannot study while on empty stomachs and then another thing is we also have the book allowance. We are supposed to buy books for us to study… [R]ight now we are busy with our semester test and we cannot study if we do not have books. We cannot buy books with cash because that is very costly.”

Another student told The Daily Vox that they are facing a very critical problem. “We just went to the office today and we asked them about the money and they told us they’re waiting for an email from an office but they haven’t given a proper reason [on] why we haven’t had imali (money),” they say.

He says the problem is with the bursary not the university.

According to NSFAS, they are unable to make any payments to any of the department of basic education (DBE) students until such time an approved list is received, and the universities have sent to NSFAS the registration confirmation.

Spokesperson for the aid scheme, Kagisho Mamabolo, told The Daily Vox that the institution, as the administrator of funds, is guided by treasury regulations, and has put in place processes to ensure that the right students are paid.

Mamabolo however says, should the funder advance payment of funds to NSFAS without an approved list as per agreement, NSFAS would not be in any position to pay for the student on behalf of the funder because the student would remain unknown, or unfunded without approval list.

Lastly, Mamabolo says without the approved list, NSFAS hands are tied and unable to do anything.

The University of Free State told The Daily Vox that the faculty of education is responsible for facilitating the selection process for the Funza Lushaka bursary programme. The list of successful new applicants was submitted to the DBE and the faculty’s Funza office will notify successful students by 30 April 2018. This date is also indicated on all confirmation documents and was communicated to the students.

Featured image by Aaisha Dadi Patel