Massive boost for student fund
THE NATIONAL Student Fund (NSF) allocation to the Northern Cape increased by 45% from R14 million in the 2015/16 financial year to R26 million in the 2016/17 financial year, while the total number of students in the province benefitting from the fund has increased by 33%.
This is according to Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, who yesterday, during a visit to Kimberley, encouraged students and Grade 12 pupils in the Frances Baard District to work hard and take ownership of their future.
Nzimande was addressing hundreds of learners during the Nelson Mandela Career Development Programme which took place at the 3SAI military base in Kimberley yesterday.
Pupils from various high schools in and around the city participated in the programme and were exposed to several career options.
Career constituencies ranging from the South African Defence Force (SANDF) to the South African Navy had exhibitions where they educated pupils on the available careers.
Nzimande said that these career opportunities were just a click away. “If you know your subjects and your interests, then you have to determine what occupation you want enter into. There are 1 437 occupations today in South Africa to choose from.
“You have a wide choice and have to make an informed decision on what you want to become. If you do not know what you want to become, then visit our National Career Advice Portal (NCAP) and complete the interest questionnaire to see what your interests are.”
Pupils who attended the programme received several information resources, including a Khetha Business Card, with the address of the National Career Advice Portal.
Nzimande pointed out that education played a vital part in the elimination of poverty and unemployment.
“The stark reality of the Northern Cape, as reflected in the Community Survey 2016, is that young people are unemployed. At the time of this survey, youth unemployment in the Province was at 37%. Clearly education is a catalyst for changing the lives of particularly the working class majority of the country.”
Nzimande also encouraged pupils to look for opportunities in the province of their birth.
“In the Northern Cape you have access to some of the world’s most advanced technology developments, such as the Square Kilometre Array and the solar plant outside Upington just to name two. These developments need managers, professionals, specialists and technicians to further develop and maintain it.
“The need for artisans cannot be over emphasised. At present the country is producing on average 13 000 qualified artisans per year which is less than half of the 30 000 artisans that the country should produce per year by 2030,” he said.
He also urged learners not to let financial woes deter them.
“The Department of Higher Education and Training has been supporting thousands of students through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). The bursary allocation has increased from R312 million in 2009 to R2,438 billion in 2017 for colleges.
“The department has, since its inception in 2009, spent more than R15,2 billion which benefited between 1.5 to two million students in our institutions.”
He urged leaners to “add a feather in their cap”. “Apply now . . . there is not much time left. It is your responsibility to be on the lookout for application dates at various institutions. Our country needs people that can take responsibility for their lives,” he said.
A CHANCE TO LEARN: Pupils were exposed to various career paths at the expo yesterday. Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande was the key note speaker.