Government to vaccinate higher education sector

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, has announced the formal commencement of the COVID-19 vaccination programme for the post-schooling education and training sector (PSET).

 

Addressing the media on the COVID-19 vaccination roll out for the PSET sector, the Minister said government will be rolling out the Pfizer vaccine across all institutions in the major metros where there is good access to cold storage facilities.

 

“We will be rolling out J&J vaccines across our rural districts as this requires cold storage facilities at higher temperatures than Pfizer and other mRNA vaccines,” Nzimande said on Friday.

 

The vaccination of PSET staff that are 35 years of age and above will formally commence on Saturday, 24 July 2021. This age group, which comprises approximately 70% of all staff in the sector, is expected to be completed within a month.

 

“So tomorrow, some of our colleges and universities, such as the staff of False Bay Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College at a site in Woodstock, South West Gauteng TVET College at a site in Roodeport, Tshwane North TVET College at a site in Centurion, University of Johannesburg at a site in Midrand will commence vaccinations simultaneously.

 

“Higher Health has made provisions with each site fully dedicated to vaccinate about 300 to 1000 people per day per site. Higher Health will be supporting the sites on the days of vaccination,” the Minister said.

 

A further 12 additional sites across Johannesburg, Tshwane, Cape Town, Gqeberha and eThekwini starting will open from Monday, 26 July.

 

This will cover over 120 000 staff from universities, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges and Community Education and Training (CET) colleges in the next two to three weeks.

 

“These same sites will be extended to private institutions, skills learning sector, Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs), Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO), National Skills Fund (NSF) with a range of skills development providers.

 

“In this coming week, Higher Health will open an additional 40 to 50 vaccination sites with the Department of Health, across all other districts, for staff populations between 600 and 4000 to be vaccinated,” the Minister said.

 

Through Higher Health, the department will connect each institution with the nearest Department of Health accredited site where vaccine supplies and vaccinators are in place.

 

“I therefore call on all staff from the age of 35 – fulltime, part-time, contracted staff (cleaning staff and security) and post-graduate students in teaching positions that are planned for this phase to come out in numbers to be vaccinated through the PSET and the community vaccination programme.

 

“Staff younger than 35 and students who live in residences, including in private accommodation, are earmarked for vaccination in Phase 2b that will kick start once the above 35 [year-olds] are completed,” the Minister said.

 

He emphasised the importance of everyone who becomes eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to take up the chance to get vaccinated.

 

“There is a fundamental need to address the myths, fake news, misinformation and misconceptions around vaccination.

 

“Guided by the PSET vaccine plan, I have asked Higher Health to develop a comprehensive communication strategy that involves all stakeholders within the PSET sector so that jointly we can mitigate vaccine hesitancy and other misinformation prevalent in our communities and society at large,” the Minister said.

 

He said that vaccines used in South Africa have been proven to be effective and safe.

 

“I would like to remind all of us that the key principles of beating COVID have not changed: social distancing; minimising personal contact; wearing a mask; sanitising and now vaccinating,” the Minister said.

 

Source: South African Government News Agency

NSFAS disburses funds to 623 386 students

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, has outlined the funding allocations for universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges in relation to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

 

“To date, NSFAS has disbursed allowances to a total of 623 386 students as per the data submitted by institutions. This number represents at least 48.5% of the total number of overall eligible students,” the Minister said.

 

Addressing a media briefing on Friday, Nzimande said the number of students assessed as eligible for the 2021 programme cycle is 1 286 867, with the total allocated for the university sector being 939 934 students and 346 933 students for the TVET Colleges.

 

These include new and continuing students.

 

“Because of the fact that not all eligible students may not eventually secure a space at an institution of higher learning, according to the data received for the 2021 academic year, 47% (444 609) of funding eligible university students have confirmed registration at institutions and this is evidenced through registration data submitted and processed by NSFAS,” Nzimande said.

 

Among the 444 609 students, at least 2% will not have their NSFAS funding confirmed as they fall within the category of registration data non-conformities/exceptions.

 

These students are found to be non-compliant based on the information received.

 

NSFAS has made two payments to universities since the start of the 2021 academic year.

 

“The first payment was made on 9 April 2021. NSFAS paid an advance amount of approximately R7.9 billion to cover March and April allowances to students at universities; and the second payment was made on 10 June 2021.

 

“A further R6.9 billion was paid over after a reconciliation was effected, based on the value of registration data received. This payment was made to cover the months of May, June and July 2021,” the Minister said.

 

Funding, registration and disbursements for TVETs

 

In relation to TVET colleges, NSFAS started making upfront payments to institutions in February 2021.

 

“Out of 365 191 students, there are 202 460 students who are funded for the first academic cycles that NSFAS has made a funding allocation for.

 

“While 223 410 students have been claimed for by colleges, 20 950 are identified as registration data exceptions which NSFAS categorised as multiple registrations and where students are changing courses which is in contravention of the TVET funding rules,” the Minister said.

 

NSFAS made provisional funding for 365 191 students to study in colleges for the 2021 programme.

 

He said a total of 223 410 students’ registration data records was received from institutions as at the end of June 2021 inclusive of Annual, Trimester 1, and Trimester 2.

 

“A total of 202 460 have been successfully processed and funded with 20 950 exceptions identified. NSFAS embarked on an exercise to confirm funding with institutions and only 17 TVET Colleges responded confirming that they have 7 903 outstanding registrations to be submitted for the first academic cycle ending June 2021,” the Minister said.

 

The reason for the registration exceptions is due to students changing academic courses, which is contrary to the Bursary Rules and Guidelines.

 

TVET Disbursements and Payments

 

There are 44 TVET colleges whose allowances are paid directly to the students through the NSFAS Wallet platform.

 

“NSFAS has been able to make payments to 183 422 students. There are 20 950 students who for various reasons still need to resolve outstanding requirements for their allowances to be approved.

 

“These students are in exceptions which largely consists of 13 276 that were initially incorrectly funded and had subsequently been resolved,” the Minister said.

 

Payments to a total of 4 461 students on the NSFAS wallet failed largely due to invalid or duplicated cell phone numbers, balance of students in exceptions of cancelled registrations, students de-registered and or late submission of data by institutions.

 

There are 20 991 students who have not created user profiles on the myNSFAS student portal.

 

“This is the biggest challenge confronting NSFAS which contributes largely to the NSFAS wallet payment failures,” said the Minister.

 

There are 180 293 students whom NSFAS attempted to pay using the NSFAS wallet system, 6 681 of which could not be paid because of locked accounts – which means the student may have forgotten their pins – and 336 have blocked accounts – meaning there was a failed attempt to unlock the account.

 

Source: South African Government News Agency

Deadline nears for Coega Global Scholars Programme

The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) has reminded qualifying candidates to apply for the Coega Global Scholars Programme (CGSP) by Friday.

“The CGSP is a Talent Identification and Retention programme, which seeks to strengthen the capacity of the CDC by training at post-graduate (Master’s and PhD) level current management talent and future talent by sending them to selected Top Tier Global Universities specialising in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) and related interdisciplinary studies,” the CDC said on Wednesday.

CDC Unit Head of Human Resources, Zola Ngoma, said the programme is designed to ensure sustainable gender representation and organisational transformation.

“It seeks to ensure a 60% participation for women in the programme. The CDC would like to thank everyone who has shown interest and already submitted their applications. We would like to encourage more applicants to take advantage of this opportunity before the deadline of Friday at 5pm,” Ngoma said.

The concept of the Coega Global Scholars Programme emanates with the idea of progressively building a valuable, unique and fresh talent pool that will enable the realisation of a sustainable competitive advantage and create stakeholder value.

The programme is in line with the CDC’s vision to be the leading catalyst for championing of socio-economic development.

“The programme seeks to contribute towards socio-economic transformation, organisational and national capacity as the benefits will not only be realised by the CDC, but by all institutions that continue to enjoy the CDC’s expertise and support,” the CDC said.

Interested persons are encouraged to visit the Coega website on www.coega.co.za for an application form: Document Library (coega.co.za).

 

Source: South African Government News Agency

Mayor Dan Plato donates educational equipment to Educare Centres

As part of Mandela Day activities, Executive Mayor Dan Plato this past week delivered learning and recreational items to EduCare Centres in various parts of the City.

 

The Mayor’s office donated to 19 ECD Centres, which were selected by the respective ward councillors.

 

‘The foundation phase of a child’s education is so important to their development and these EduCare centres are doing great work to not only look after children while their parents are at work, but also help them be active and prepare them for the start of their school life. The little ones learn coordination skills, reading, drawing and basic maths at these facilities and we hope this donation assists with those tasks. The donation is intended to assist centres who need the extra resources and I am pleased that we could offer our assistance in a small way to help these young minds develop and grow,’ said Executive Mayor Dan Plato.

Items donated to these centres included equipment such as yoga mats, soccer balls, skipping ropes and hula hoops. Stationery and art items included paint sets, crayons, clay, books and building blocks.

 

These 19 ECDs include:

Hangberg Pre-Primary, Koringspikkies in Kraaifontein, Cuddly Bears ECD in Scottsdene, Little Tiny Tots ECD, Nantes ECD  in Silvertown (Athlone), Anne’s Toddler Welfare in Lotus River, Primrose Park Educare, Yiza Ekhaya Day Care in Khayelitsha, Mathaba Educare in Gugulethu, Jack and Jill Creche in Durbanville,  Oakview Academy in Richwood, Home of Hope in Table View, Seawind Educare in Cafda Retreat, Bronze Kideo in Woodlands Mitchell’s Plain, Unity Educare Centre in Tafelsig, Happy Hearts Centre in The Hague Delft, Child and Youth Care Centre in Delft South and PJS Educare in Elsies River.

Caption 1: From left Mayor Dan Plato, Seawind Educare’s Marguerita Benjamin and Subcouncil 18 chairperson, Shanen Rossouw.

 

Caption 2: Donation to Bronze Kideo in Woodlands Mitchell’s Plain

 

Caption 3: From left Ward 82 Cllr Washiela Harris, Executive Mayor Dan Plato, and Unity Educare Owner and Principal Patricia Hawkins

 

Source: City of Cape Town

Over 185 000 educators, staff vaccinated

More than 185 000 educators and staff have been vaccinated in the basic education sector, as the sector continues the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

In a statement on Sunday, the Department of Basic Education said 30 000 teachers and support staff in Limpopo, were vaccinated on Friday and Saturday.

“The province has managed to administer the vaccine on 15 000 people in two successive days. At this rate Limpopo needs one more day to complete vaccinating everybody in the list,” the department said.

The sector targets to vaccinate 582 000 people by 8 July 2021, with eight provinces to continue with the vaccine rollout on Monday to Friday.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is expected to join Free State Education MEC Tate Makgoe on Monday, as the sector continues to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19.

“The monitoring visits will start at the Seemahale Secondary School in Botshabelo and continue at Pontsheng Primary School, as well as Mpatleng Senior Secondary.

“The Minister will proceed to the Northern Cape on Tuesday. Minister Motshekga is scheduled to be in the Eastern Cape on Thursday this week,” the department said.

The visits are aimed at encouraging more people to get the vaccine.

The department said it is satisfied with the turnout thus far, and remains hopeful that the target will be met as scheduled.

 

Source: South African Government News Agency

Policy for regulation of university fees underway

Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande says the development of a policy framework for the regulation of university fees is underway to ensure that fees are kept at affordable levels for all families that need assistance.

“These efforts in the long-term aim to ensure that going forward all students are able to access some form of financial support for their university studies. However, without substantial additional funding being available in the sector, student debt will continue to be a problem,” Nzimande said.

The Minister was speaking during a hybrid National Elective Conference of the South African Union of Students (SAUS) on Sunday.

The 8th elective conference is being held at the University of Venda, under the theme “Dismantling all barriers besetting university entry and placing SAUS at the centre of creating a sustainable post-school education and training sector”.

Addressing the conference, Nzimande said concerns have been raised about withholding academic records of students who have outstanding fees by institutions, and he has had several engagements with universities regarding the matter.

“All institutions have agreed to provide a certificate of completion to potential employers where students have met all the requirements for graduation, but still have university debt. Academic transcripts are also provided by institutions where they are required,” Nzimande said.

However, Nzimande said he has learnt that there are students who are still unable to access their academic records, and the department is constantly engaging with Registrars of institutions where such cases are brought to the attention of the department.

“Following a meeting that I had with South African Union of Students (SAUS) earlier this year, Universities South Africa (USAf) has initiated a process to work towards a system-wide approach to the issue of student transcripts and certificates and outstanding fees. I am aware that USAf has started this process and hopes to conclude it soon.”

Student Housing Infrastructure Programme

On student accommodation, the Minister said the department, together with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), has established a Student Housing Infrastructure Programme (SHIP) to centrally facilitate the construction of student accommodation.

“Our aim is to address the shortage of student housing and accelerate the development of at least 300 000 beds over a ten-year period, and we are working towards delivering even more than this,” the Minister said.

The University of Fort Hare, Nelson Mandela University, University of North West and University of Western Cape, Sefako Makgatho University, and University of Limpopo are the first beneficiaries of SHIP Phase 1 developments.

Phase 1 SHIP developments enabled an investment of about R3.5 billion, including the DBSA commitment of R1.6 million debt funding for 12 000 student beds. Phase 2 SHIP developments comprise of about 24 000 student beds of 12 institutions including six universities.

“I recently launched the Alice Student Village at the University of Fort Hare, and was proud to see the fruits of this work,” the Minister said.

While focus is on development of student housing, the Minister said the department continues to pay attention to the existing infrastructure maintenance, noting that some of the institutions, especially in the most disadvantaged areas, have facilities that have not been maintained and are in poor condition.

New Gauteng universities underway

Meanwhile, the Minister has confirmed that plans are underway for the establishment of two new universities in Gauteng, as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa during the State of the Nation address in February 2020.

“A steering committee to oversee the feasibility study has been put in place and is due to be completed next year. The University of Science and Innovation will be established at Ekurhuleni, the only metro without a university,” Nzimande said.

 

Source: South African Government News Agency

Teacher in court for raping a pupil

DURBAN – A 53-year-old suspect is set to appear before the Madadeni Magistrates’ Court this morning for a case of rape.

It is alleged that on 09 June 2021, an eleven-year-old girl was at a school in Madadeni when she was raped by one of the teachers in the school toilets. She was threatened to be killed should she report the matter to anyone.

The victim informed her mother what transpired and a case of rape was opened at Madadeni SAPS. The docket was transferred to Newcastle Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit for further investigation. The suspect was arrested yesterday morning by the FCS Unit.

Source: South African Police Service