Update: Funza Lushaka Bursaries, new Seta landscape, NSFAS and student loans

By sylviahammond, 23 August, 2011

The Department of Basic Education is strengthening its campaign to attract young people to take up teaching through the Funza Lushaka Bursary initiative.


From next month, the department said that it would “recruit the best of young people to the teaching profession.”


It has also announced that there would be a “more scripted approach to teacher development.”


This, it said, would include training and support to teachers to “help them manage and use efficient methods to teach specific content areas,” which the Annual National Assessment had shown to be challenging to learners.


As part of efforts to strengthen accountability in the education system, the department said it was working closely with the Education Labour Relations Council to develop performance management contracts with principals and deputy principals.


Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and her deputy Enver Surty were addressing journalists on Tuesday during a Human Development Cluster briefing in Cape Town.


Speaking on behalf of the minister, Surty said that “all principals and deputy principals will enter into performance contracts in the future with clear performance targets.”


He highlighted that improved performance at basic education level was key to achieving the goals of the Department of Higher Education and Training.


“Education and training are central in improving the requisite skills that will ensure an effective response to the needs of the labour market… and ensuring inclusive beneficiation in the economy.”


He said that government had observed that the South African labour market was “plagued” by skills shortages.


As part of efforts to improve the new Sector Education and Training Authorities (Setas), the department had started interventions which sought to increase access to training and skills development opportunities.


“The launch of the new Seta landscape has led to the restructuring of Setas… to improve governance, administration with a focus on meeting sectoral skills needs and increase training levels overall.


“A standard constitution for all Setas was introduced to ensure there is a consistency and alignment with regard to the functioning of Setas”


On a related matter, Surty said that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will not be charging interest on student loans “until 12 months after the student has graduated or left university.”


This, he said, would apply to “all NSFAS loans to students registered on 1 April 2011 and [beyond].”


“A further R50 million has been provided for postgraduate students who require financial assistance to complete their Honours, Master’s and Doctoral Degrees.


“These students will enter into loan agreements with NSFAS and the money they pay back will be earmarked to fund future postgraduate students.”


He said that the Department of Higher Education had also asked NSFAS to remove from the credit bureau “all students they have blacklisted,” particularly recipients of NSFAS loans.


Meanwhile, there are also plans by the Department of Basic Education and President Jacob Zuma to revisit the Eastern Cape to address the education crisis there.

Francis Hweshe - BuaNews



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