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NSFAS Overhaul: Promises, Pitfalls, and New Leadership Emerges

  • Minister Nzimande dissolved the NSFAS board due to failure in fulfilling basic responsibilities, leading to inefficiencies and undue pressure on students and families.
  • Freeman Nomvalo, former CEO of SAICA, was appointed as the new administrator to address these shortcomings and improve NSFAS's effectiveness.
  • While some advocate for broader leadership changes within the education sector, others express confidence in Nomvalo's appointment to enhance NSFAS's operations and support students in need.
New Leadership Emerges

Higher Education Minister Dr. Blade Nzimande has cited the outgoing National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) board’s failure to fulfill its fundamental duties as a primary reason for its dissolution. Speaking to the media in Pretoria, Nzimande explained his decision to dissolve the board and place NSFAS under administration. This move came in the wake of Ernest Khosa’s resignation as board chairperson.

Nzimande convened an urgent meeting with the board and promptly informed them that their roles were being terminated with immediate effect. He emphasized that this decision was part of a broader strategy aimed at enhancing the entity’s effectiveness.

In appointing Freeman Nomvalo, the former CEO of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), as the new administrator, Nzimande highlighted the board’s failure to fulfill its mandate. He expressed disappointment with NSFAS’s inability to execute its core responsibilities, such as implementing recommendations from reports and addressing issues like irregularly appointed service providers.

Nzimande underscored the adverse effects of the board’s shortcomings on students and their families, including delayed allowances and unresolved queries. He defended his decision to dissolve the board, emphasizing its necessity to alleviate pressure on students and enhance NSFAS’s efficiency.

Acknowledging the gravity of the decision, Nzimande assured the public that NSFAS’s operations, including payments, would continue without disruption. He reassured stakeholders that careful consideration had been given to the implications of this decision, particularly for NSFAS employees and students.

However, student activists, such as Keamogetswe Masike from the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), called for the resignation of both Nzimande and his deputy, Buti Manamela. They criticized the leadership for their perceived failure and advocated for a change in leadership to address the dysfunction within the education system.

In contrast, education activist Hendrick Makaneta expressed confidence in the appointment of Freeman Nomvalo as NSFAS administrator. Makaneta emphasized Nomvalo’s extensive experience in finance and auditing, suggesting that his appointment could help NSFAS fulfill its mandate more effectively.

Makaneta stressed the importance of NSFAS in supporting students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds, highlighting the critical role it plays in ensuring equal access to education. He viewed Nomvalo’s appointment as a positive step toward improving NSFAS’s operations and ensuring timely disbursement of allowances to students in need.

Overall, the dissolution of the NSFAS board and the appointment of a new administrator signal a commitment to addressing the challenges facing the organization and improving its ability to serve students effectively. While concerns remain regarding the leadership within the education sector, there is optimism that these changes will lead to positive outcomes for students across South Africa.



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