By SIVE MADALA GUMENGE
A month after the local government elections of 01 November 2021, I expressed an opinion that municipalities should align with TVET Colleges with the intention being the use of credible skills for service delivery and economic development. My purpose was also to demonstrate what role municipalities should play in the communities they serve, in the spirit of Batho Pele.
“Education is the key to success.” As clichéd as the phrase sounds, it has contributed to getting the ball rolling for Makhanda, a town in unarguable need of a successful turnaround.
Therefore, it is beneficial to see some municipalities in the Eastern Cape exploiting the opportunity to demonstrate the spirit of Batho Pele through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) 2022 bursaries applications window.
NSFAS opened its applications from 02 November 2021 to 07 January 2022. According to the recent statement circulated 06 January 2022, NSFAS received about 600 000 applications, and 505 820 were first-time applicants across all 50 TVET Colleges and 26 Universities of South Africa. With such numbers, NSFAS and perhaps through opinions of various interest groups saw the need for an extension of applications to 21 January 2022 to align equally with the 2022 Matric results release.
The impact and role of NSFAS in society are publicly evident and well recorded, as it helps students cover registration and tuition fees, learning material, meals, accommodation/travel and personal care allowances for current and prospective students who come from poor working-class families. Perhaps it’s essential to indicate that these allowances are structured differently at University and TVET Colleges.
Therefore, it was inspiring to see our Executive Mayors in the province taking the lead in campaigning for prospective students to apply for NSFAS in the first week of January 2022. I wish to commend the Executive Mayor of Makana Municipality, Yandiswa Vara, in particular, for commanding and marshalling her leadership to ensure that young people did not miss this opportunity to apply for NSFAS.
The municipality invited all prospective students who had not yet applied for NSFAS bursaries to do so and opened the doors of the Municipality for applicants to use the facilities of the Municipality for their application process. The efforts made and good work done through this initiative demonstrated the opportunity for Makana Municipality, the Eastcape Midlands TVET College and Rhodes University to work together to positively empower and rebuild the City through education and other programmes that will contribute towards the regeneration of the City, its economy and communities.
The City of Makhanda is famous for having South Africa’s premier educational centres, with many world-class secondary and tertiary institutions. It follows, therefore, that making education a project across stakeholder groupings in this town will ensure that Makhanda lives up to its glory days.
Perhaps out of this positive energy, a new dialogue will thrive, which must address the expansion of Eastcape Midlands TVET College to offer more diverse academic programmes and short courses aligned to the city’s economic rebirth. Eastcape Midlands TVET College, Grahamstown Campus, in particular, is experiencing growing demand amongst the region’s young people. The 2022 academic year received more than 2500 applicants despite its capacity of about 1500 students.
For reasons such as these, the cordial relations between the municipality and the College should be strengthened to respond to these demands and the safety of the students in the City. These relations must be of practical action as we know the challenges of student accommodation, gender-based violence, and lack of jobs for students are becoming a real issue in the City.
People of Makana are eager and excited about the development of roads, new economic initiatives by the tourism office and the hosting of a two day Street Market from 26-27 February in launching its new brand and services. Tourism is looking to showcase local, traditional, homemade, handmade, organic, and educational goods.
Therefore, the momentum must not be allowed to dissipate. New projects of cleaning the streets through outreach programmes must take centre stage so that education prevails in a clean and fresh environment. Hence, ward councillors must also be brought into the importance of education and the city because authentic service delivery is on the wards. Students can also play a meaningful role in changing the knowledge landscape in municipal wards.
It is pleasing to see that Makana leadership has shown positive strides in prioritizing the education of its youth as future leaders of the City, country and the world.
Sive Madala Gumenge is currently Heading Student Support Services at Eastcape Midlands TVET College, based in Kariega. He writes in his personal capacity.