She was speaking at an Imbizo at the Vhembe TVET College’s Makwarela campus in Limpopo where students were complaining about not receiving their NSFAS grants on time.
The former CEO, Steven Zwane resigned earlier this year as the scheme struggled to meet its funding obligations to students.
Pandor then dissolved the NSFAS board and appointed an administrator to run the scheme in August.
Students at Vhembe TVET College’s Makwarela campus in Limpopo told Pandor of how they are impacted by the delay in the payment of their NSFAS grants.
Pandor also opened a clinic to help students to test for various diseases. Student representatives from various TVET colleges and the University of Venda also attended.
Vhembe TVET College has six campuses around the Vhembe district. Other TVET colleges are spread across the province. Early this year TVET students, and those from two local universities, spent weeks boycotting classes due to non-payment of NSFAS grants on time.
During an interaction with the minister in the main hall, some students booed her after she refused to get involved in a case in which the SRC president was denied entry to campus to attend her Imbizo.
SRC president from the EFF Student Command, Thivhusiwi Ndou, was refused entry to campus by police and security personnel following an instruction from campus management.
The students told the minister that some of them had to give up on their studies because of lack of funds from NSFAS.
“We get our allowance very late. Sometime and at some points we don’t even get them. In 2016, I applied, first block, second block, third block I was never funded for the whole year. The former President Jacob Zuma introduced free education but here we are forced to pay R300. If we don’t pay we are told we are not going to enter the school or to get admitted. Minister of higher education, please tell our principal to give us those R300, we need them.”
Minister Pandor says since she appointed an administrator to run NSFAS in August, 120 000 students at universities and from 60 TVET colleges countrywide received their funding.
“A lot students including in TVET colleges that is why I want to know what happened here at Vhembe, many students have received their backlog funding covering 2017 and 2018 it is important to establish what is the problem here at Vhembe, why are there students who have not received their funding and we are going to do that in detail in find out why.”
Meanwhile the minister, who was accompanied by the MEC for Health in Limpopo – Phophi Ramathuba – urged students to use the clinic she opened on campus to test for various diseases. She discouraged female students from engaging in relationships with elderly men commonly known as “blessers”.