Pupils from township high schools have been given a lifeline to explore their craft or career destination by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) in partnership with the Western Cape Department of Education.
Eager to improve chances in careers and education in the townships, NSFAS has teamed up with the education department and other stakeholders to set up a week-long career expo at Sinethemba High School in Philippi.
The programme has accommodated more than 300 pupils from
18 schools from Metropole South, and surrounding districts.
The pupils from Grade 9 and 12 from various schools in the Western Cape, including Philippi, Nyanga and Gugulethu townships, are participating in the career expo.
Exhibitors will be on hand to guide pupils on the various opportunities within the public and private sector.
The majority of the schools are categorised by the Department of Basic Education as falling in Quintile 2 and 3, which are classified as no-fee schools.
The open week continues until tomorrow Friday July 29.
Executive officer of NSFAS, Msulwa Daca, said partnering with the government and other stakeholders will give pupils a chance to know their career choices.
He said the main purpose of the event is to provide life orientation teachers with the latest information on admission requirements of higher and further education institutions, and share information with pupils on NSFAS’ bursaries and student loans.
Mr Dacar said the aim is to encourage pupils to apply early for academic admission and funding.
He said the career expo will be to create awareness on different career paths and job opportunities so that young people can make an informed and appropriate decision on time regarding their future and post matric studies.
He said the open week will also prepare pupils for the NSFAS student-centred system which will be open for applications from August.
“The student-centred model will be fully implemented for all universities and colleges in 2017 and will phase out the old funding system where students applied only through universities and colleges. Once in place, the system will ensure that funds follow the student and allow students to attend institutions of their choice, subjected to meeting the entry criteria of an institution,” he said.
Mr Daca said the new system will give NSFAS the mechanism to ensure that all funds are re-allocated much faster than on the current system.
“We are here with universities, colleges and other institutions. This is a new project with the Western Cape Department of Education. The intention is to give children career and study options. We want them to start applying for places at the tertiary level and for funding,” he said.
Mr Daca said the exhibition will help towards uplifting the quality of education for the pupils from the townships. He said with NSFAS things have changed. “Students will only apply once. Unlike before when you apply every year. Another change is that applications for funds is more centralised. We want to make sure that money is in the bank for students in January,” he said.
He said there will be more campaigns to alert the pupils about NSFAS. He added that he was happy that his organisation is recouping millions from the defaulters.
The director of WCED Metro South Education District, Glen van Harte, said a programme like this one creates a platform for pupils to know different careers. Mr Van Harte urged pupils to make use of the opportunity to their advantage.
“The fact that parents do not have money should not be a reason that children should not go to school. This is a simple exhibition helping children cement what they want to do,” he said.
He also made a call to NSFAS to expand the exhibition to other areas.
“Mitchell’s Plain deserves this and other areas like Grassy Park and Manenberg,” he said.
Among those attending the expo was Sisa Mngqengqiswa from Philippi High School, who said young people were there to make informed decisions.
She said her disadvantaged background will not be a stumbling block for her to succeed.
“Today we will make an informed decision about our career choices. This is the time that we arm ourselves and we will succeed in doing that,” she said.
Life orientation teacher Charmaine Pietersen appealed to teachers to show pupils their final destination. She said if teachers failed to show pupils the different career options, they would have failed in their duties as teachers.