Pay back student loans
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.