NCOP Amendments to Higher Education Amendment Bill; Committee Annual Report; Finalisation; Schools Sport; National Student Finan

Basic Education

11 November 2002
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Meeting report

PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION

EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
12 November 2002
NCOP AMENDMENTS TO HIGHER EDUCATION AMENDMENT BILL; COMMITTEE ANNUAL REPORT; FINALISATION; SCHOOLS SPORT; NATIONAL STUDENT FINANCIAL AID SCHEME: BRIEFING

Chairperson: Prof Mayatula (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Higher Education Amendment Bill [B30B-2002]
NCOP amendments to the Higher Education Amendment Bill (Appendix 1)
Presentation by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Appendix 2)

SUMMARY
The NCOP amendments to the Higher Education Bill was unanimously adopted. The draft annual report for 2002 was adopted with amendments. The Department briefed the Committee on the framework for school sports; the Committee was divided on the issue. Some felt it would be over-regulation of sports whereas other felt it was necessary to regulate the sports programme. The Director-General argued the point for regulation. The presentation on the Student Financial Aid Scheme focused on its progress since 1991. The Committee was pleased with the achievements. The discussion focused on practical ways to reach more disadvantaged and marginalised groups. The NSFAS promised that some of the concerns of the Committee were under review and the report would be ready when Parliament resumed the following year.

MINUTES
Higher Education Amendment Bill
Advocate Boshoff explained that the NCOP amendment was a technical and minor one. The amendment was effected so that Section 23(7) of the principal Act, as amended, could dovetail with and be referred to in Section 23(13). The amendment is reflected in clause 5 (f) of the Amendment Bill.

The Committee agreed to the amendment and the Bill was adopted.

Annual Report 2002
Members made some modifications to the draft annual report. The modifications were unanimously agreed to and the report was adopted.

School Sport
Mr Thami Mseleku: Director-General, briefed the Committee on the Department's progress in terms of operationalising schools sports. He said that the Department was putting a framework for schools sports in place, as provided by the South African Schools Act. The aim was to try and coordinate recreational programmes in schools and to try and work with local government structures, particularly SALGA, to develop sports in schools. The Ministry of Education and Sports would be involved in the co-ordination of sports programme so that educational and recreational programmes did not clash.

Discussion
Mr Geldenhuys (NNP) commented that the process sounded complex and rather confusing. He wanted to know under which Department a schools sports league would fall.

The Director General said that it would fall under the Ministry of Sports. He explained that the Ministry of Education and that of Sports would not be confusing their roles but that each would have input relevant to its expertise. He made an example: the Education Ministry would intervene in sports matters that had an impact on learning, teaching and curriculum whereas the Sports Ministry would be involved in matters such as organizing sports events.

Mr Kgwele (ANC) welcomed the proposal and felt that it would bring accountability and clarity to sports development programmes.

A Member asked who was responsible for the maintenance and renovation of sports facilities in schools, having observed that sports facilities often depreciate to oblivion with no one responsible for revamping them.

Mr Mseleku replied that the Department was trying to make it a policy that when schools are built, the sports facilities formed part of the building contract and maintenance thereof. The Department was also looking into the pooling resources with local government's sports facilities nearby schools.

Mr Vadi (ANC) felt that what the Department what was trying to do would politicise and overregulate schools sports which, he argued, would dampen the spirits of pupils and teachers who were passionate about sports.

Mr Mseleku disagreed. He explained that presently there were many competing recreational programmes mushrooming within and among schools. He thought this was not advisable because of its negative impact on the curriculum and the lack of a regulatory framework. The Department was simply trying to formulate a framework within which school recreation could be monitored and regulated effectively.

National Student Financial Aid Scheme Review
Ms Boshoff: representative of the Department on the Board of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), conducted the presentation. She was pleased with the progress of the scheme since 1991 because since then it had assisted over 263000 students with awards worth approximately R3 billion. She outlined some statistics on the progress of the scheme and explained how the scheme worked as provided by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Act of 1999. She ended her presentation by stating that the scheme was still under review and that a report on some of the issues would be available when Parliament resumed next year.

Discussion
Ms Mnandi (ANC) expressed his appreciation of the presentation and commended the NSFAS for the progress it had made so far. She asked why there was no gender breakdown in the study field category. Ms Tango: Chairperson of the Board of NSFAS, replied that it could be done and issued upon request.

Ms Mnandi also asked if rural areas were being reached by the scheme.

Ms Tango explained that they were working with NGO's that tried to increase enrolment of academically deserving and financially needy students with tertiary institutions.

Ms Mnandi was concerned about students who could not access financial aid because of the they were required to pay fees prior to registration that poor students could not afford. Her concerns were shared by Mr Kgwele and Ms Nhlengethwa (ANC).

Ms Tango explained that the NSFAS could not prescribe how institutions should run their financial matters. However, one of the aspects of the review was to undertake a means test before registration so that students and institutions knew that they were guaranteed financing before registration.

Mr Kgwele (ANC) asked if the scheme reached out to disabled people.

Ms Tango replied that there were no funds earmarked specifically for disabled people. Part of the review was to ensure that marginalised groups were informed about the scheme.

Mr Abrahams (ANC) asked if the field of study determined the allocation of funds.

Ms Tango explained that if that were the case, then poor students would not gain from the scheme. So far, the means test was the basis for assistance.

Mr Abrahams also asked if the rate of repayment increased with debtor graduates' gross annual income.

Ms Boshoff explained that if the debtor earned R26000 per annum, then three per cent thereof would be required as repayment. She agreed that the more one earned, the greater would be the repayment rate. Ms Tango added that the monthly repayment was made affordable so that the debtor could still survive and provide for their families.

Mr Moonsamy (ANC) asked what a means test was in the context of the Scheme.

Ms Tango replied that it was a way to determine if a student had any other financial contribution toward their studies.

Ms Nhlengethwa (ANC) asked if the NSFAS monitored tertiary institutions.

Ms Tango said they did. The means test and criteria for financial aid were designed by the Scheme and applied across the board. They did not depend on the institutions' own audit but used their auditors to audit the use of the funds by the institutions.

Ms Nhlengethwa asked if the Scheme could not assist in providing jobs for graduates.

Ms Tango replied that in as much as they would be happy to assist, they would rather use the money to provide financial assistance than to expand their small office for other activities.

Prof Ripinga (ANC) asked if the Scheme was linked to government strategies such as the Human Resource Development Strategy. He was concerned that it would be unwise to spend money on education matters if that would not improve South Africa's skills base.

Ms Tango replied that while such concerns were genuine, the Scheme so far focused on improving access for needy students and such issues would be considered as the Scheme was being reviewed.

Mr Montsitsi (ANC) later commented that the scheme should find a way to channel money to students studying in fields that were needed for the development of the country.

A Member (ANC) asked if there were any arrangements for dept repayment by dropouts and unemployed graduates.

Ms Boshoff explained that all repayments commenced when debtors were finally employed.

The same Member asked if postgraduates were eligible for the scheme.

Ms Tango said no. She explained that post-graduates were a research capacity asset to their universities and they should have proven to their institutions that they would be worth their sponsorship.

A Member asked if some of the emigrating graduates were not beneficiaries of the scheme.

Ms Tango said that graduates from well to do backgrounds were likely to emigrate, compared to poor graduates who had an obligation to stay home and support their families.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1:
The Select Committee on Education and Recreation, having considered the subject of the Higher Education Amendment Bill [B 30B - 2002] (National Assembly - sec 75), referred to it, reports the Bill with a proposed amendment, as follows:

CLAUSE 5

1. On page 5, after line 35, to insert:
(f) by the substitution for subsection (8) of the following subsection:
(8) The [four] members contemplated in subsection (7)(b) -
(a) must be appointed by the Minister from nominations received from the public higher education institutions concerned; and
(b) may not include any member of staff, or student, from the public higher education institutions concerned.".
Appendix 2:

THE NATIONAL STUDENT FINANCIAL AID SCHEME (NSFAS)

From 1991 until the end of 2002 over 263 000 students have been assisted with over 585 000 awards worth approximately R 3 billion.

Policy Framework for An Expanded National financial Aid Scheme that is affordable and sustainable -

-The NSFAS should take the form of a national loan and bursary scheme.
-Loan repayment to the Scheme should be income contingent.
-TEFSA should be converted into a statutory agency.
-The main source of funding for the NSFAS should be the fiscus.
-The National Student Financial Aid Scheme Act, 1999 (Act No.56 of 1999), incorporates the above policy framework.
-The NSFAS operates in partnership with Financial Aid Offices at our public higher education institutions.
-It provides financial aid to students at these technikons and universities.
-Up to 40% of each award to a student can be converted to a bursary, subject to academic performance.

ANNUAL ALLOCATIONS TO INSTITUTIONS

Annual allocations are made to higher education institutions according to the NSFAS funding formula which ensures equitable division of the available funds to institutions, in terms of the number of disadvantaged students and the full cost of study at each institution.

APPLICATION PROCESS

-Students apply through the Financial Aid Offices of the universities and technikons where they are registered.
-Applications are assessed by the institutions on the basis of criteria and means test.
-Contracts are issued by the NSFAS Office.

CRITERIA FOR ELIGIBILITY FOR ASSISTANCE

To be eligible an applicant needs to be:
-A South African citizen.
-A registered student at a public university or technikon at the time of the application.
-Studying for a first higher education qualification or for a second qualification if that is required to enable the student to practice in a chosen profession
-Judged to have potential to succeed
-Regarded as financially in need and unable to finance his or her studies without a NSFAS loan

TABLE 1: NUMBER OF LOANS GRANTED TO DATE

Year Number
1991 7 240
1992 14 160
1993 208011
1994 28 260
1995 43 876
1996 72 788
1997 70 574
1998 75 764
1999 75 344
2000 83 251
2001 93 532
Total 585 600

TABLE 2: ALLOCATION OF AWARDS BY RACE AND GENDER

Race


Race African Coloured Indian White
Number 457748 18552 9633 5876
Percentage 93,07% 3,77% 1,96% 1,19%

Gender

Gender Awards Percentage
Female 3033 53.81%
Male 2603 46.19%
Total 5636 100%

TABLE 3: SUBJECT AREAS OF STUDY OF LOAN RECIPIENTS

Study field Awards Percentage %

Commerce, Admin, Business 31 762 38,15
Arts & Human, Libr. Educ. & Religion 13 701 16,46
Engineering, Information systems 9 574 11,50
Science, Computer Science 9 941 11,94
Law 5 896 7,08
Medical, health, nursing dentistry 4154 4,99
Social Science 4 126 4,96
Agriculture 1 571 1,89
Fine Arts 1 011 1,21
Environment Studies 9 72 1,17
Journalism, media 3 17 0,38
Architecture 2 26 0,27

FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

Donor support was based on the understanding that the Government would assume increasing responsibility for the Scheme, explaining the decline in donor contributions.

Efforts continue to be made to persuade donors to support the NSFAS to augment Government's financial commitment.

The current allocation from the fiscus for the NSFAS is not sufficient to meet the extent of the needs, despite the recycling of loan funds.

TABLE 4: FUNDS FROM GOVERNMENT AND DONORS
IN R MILLION

Year
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
200
2001
Total

IDT
21.5
25.0
30.0
30.0
20.0






126.5

Foreign

14.0
29.0
37.0
76.0
38.0
153.3
98.0
56.3
73.4
51.2
626.7

State



10.5
57.1
283./8
197.7
296.0
384.9
437.4
5000.0
2167.4

Total
21.5
41.3
55.2
70.5
154.3
333.4
351.0
394.5
441.2
510.8
551.2
2924.9


LOAN RECOVERY

Loan Year
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
Total

Amount recovered R
983,456.00
2,364,000.00
6,861,344.00
18,973,606.00
24,814,200.00
30,372,190.00
68,408,652.00
90,763,154.54
112,000,000.00
355,540,602.54


FURTHER ISSUES


-The size and coverage of the loan allocation.
-The eligibility criteria.
-The suitability and likely impact of targeting priority fields of study and/or institutions.
-The effectiveness of the existing administrative mechanisms for the disbursement of the
NSFAS.
-Access to information about NSFAS and co-ordination with the National Higher Education Information and Application Service.

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