Pay back stu­dent loans

CityPress - - Voices -

It is known in many fam­i­lies that once the el­dest child starts to work, he or she is ex­pected to play a role in the education and wel­fare of the younger sib­lings. This serves to im­prove the fi­nan­cial and so­cial sit­u­a­tion of many fam­i­lies and, in turn, com­mu­ni­ties.

Hence, it is shock­ing to note there are 500 000 South Africans who have ben­e­fited from the Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) and are em­ployed or earn enough money, yet are not re­pay­ing their debt to the scheme.

The scheme is owed R21 bil­lion. Some of this debt goes back 17 years. Only R248 mil­lion was re­cov­ered in debt by Nsfas in the past fi­nan­cial year.

This comes at a time when the coun­try is fac­ing a fund­ing short­fall for stu­dents across ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions, when they have em­barked on mas­sive protest cam­paigns de­mand­ing free education.

Late last year, stu­dents forced govern­ment and univer­si­ties into agree­ing not to in­crease tu­ition fees this year.

Ev­ery­one is in agree­ment that ter­tiary education is ex­pen­sive and that the ma­jor­ity of South Africans can­not af­ford it. Calls have been made to govern­ment that the doors of higher education be opened to all, es­pe­cially 22 years into democ­racy. It can­not be that we can still have stu­dents who are de­nied the right to education based on their so­cial back­ground.

It is a known fact that there are those who can af­ford to pay for ter­tiary education, but choose not to.

Then there are those who fall out­side of the Nsfas thresh­old, but are still poor and can­not pay – the so-called miss­ing middle. Govern­ment is do­ing its bit, the pri­vate sec­tor has upped the ante, and not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions and churches are dig­ging deep to help strug­gling stu­dents fund their education and en­sure the coun­try pros­pers.

Clearly, this is not the time for only a hand­ful of peo­ple to pull out the stops; it re­quires all South Africans to lend a hand.

The 500 000 Nsfas ben­e­fi­cia­ries who are re­fus­ing to pay do a dis­ser­vice not only to the count­less stu­dents fac­ing the prospect of be­ing de­nied univer­sity en­trance be­cause of lack of funds, but also to their coun­try.

To those ben­e­fi­cia­ries, please do your bit to re­pay the help you got from govern­ment so many more stu­dents also have a chance at suc­ceed­ing.

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