Chairman Sizwe Nxasana throws in the towel after Zuma's announcement of free education.

Will NSFAS break the country's finances ?

The following is my personal summary of an article in the Rapport on 12 August :

  1. The system is collapsing

  2. The number of students who want to profit from free education increased massively

  3. Students block the system because they do not want to bring their side of the contract

  4. The variety of contracts is unmanageable

  5. There was almost no time to implement

Here are some of my impressions from the article :

To try to change the NSFAS system in time so that students can study for free, has been like "changing the engine of an aeroplane in the air" said a senior employee of the NSFAS after Sizwe Nxasana resigned on Monday.

Ex president Zuma's announcement in December that poor students can study for free, had the effect that thousands of students decided to register at a university or a college and the fund received 600 000 applications for bursaries  said the source in NSFAS.

The specifics of the policy for free higher education was furthermore vague and it was not clear how much money would under which circumstances be made available to students.

In a media statement on Thursday Nxasana said the fund has come under extreme pressure since 2016 because of increasing obligations.

According to Minister Pandor 20 000 students have not yet signed their contracts and thus have not yet received money this year.

Rapport earlier reported that students complain that they do not get contracts because NSFAS sends the PIN with which they get access to contracts, to the wrong cell numbers.

But the source within NSFAS said that students refuse to sign contracts because they want to receive money without being bound to the conditions for free education.

The DA's Belinda Bozzoli said the challenges that the fund experience now can be blamed on Zuma's announcement in December.

No bureaucracy can survive such an onslaught.

The number of students, the conditions of their allowances, the type of payouts and the scale of the whole exercise totally changed overnight and the system could not keep up any more.

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