The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) launched a Road Show in the Western Cape in February 2011 which provided an ideal opportunity to talk to vulnerable learners from some of the poorest schools in the province about the importance of further education.
Joining NSFAS in spreading a message of hope to impoverished learners, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) together with various local tertiary institutions were invited to address the youth during two events held in the communities of Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain.
Learners from neighbouring high schools were bussed in to central locations and invited to participate in discussions around the different options available to them for study after school. The aim was to share information that will help these needy youth gain access to tertiary education and available financial aid.
Without career guidance many learners make the wrong subject choices needed to pursue tertiary studies. Sessions thus included career advice workshops to help learners identify their strengths in order to succeed in a chosen field of study. NSFAS called on the expertise of Ingrid van der Merwe, Senior Careers Advisor at UCT’s Career Development Programme to address the learners on how to choose a course of study. NSFAS also partnered with an initiative by the Minister of Higher Education and Training namely, the NQF and Career Advice Helpline which is run by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). Learners in need of study and career advice can contact the Helpline on 0860 111 673.
Rather than simply emphasizing enrollment into a tertiary institution, the NSFAS Road Show also provided opportunity for local universities and Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges to discuss the different student support services they have on offer to students. These include free careers counseling, learning assistance, job placement support and disability support and many of these additional support programmes will help to motivate learners to achieve greater success academically.
These two NSFAS events mark the beginning of an extensive campaign to create awareness among the poverty stricken youth of our nation. The plan is to continue these Road Shows in the different provinces of South Africa in 2011 and to effectively communicate the services of NSFAS to many more poor learners.
Article by NSFAS
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