Dept subsidised data for students

Johannesburg – Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Blade Nzimande has announced that National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and Funza Lushaka bursary funded students would be provided 10gb daytime and 20gb night-time data for three months.

  He said the offer, which is subsidised by government, would begin from 1 June up to the end of August this year.

  “We have successfully negotiated the initiative with all mobile network operators, and we shall soon give detailed information on how to access these offers,” Nzimande said.

  He urged NSFAS and the Funza Lushaka bursary funded students to register their cellphone numbers with their institutions. 

  “They must not change their SIM cards so that mobile network operators, through their institutions, could load the data to their devices. They also must not use the data for content not related to their studies. I emphasise that this data must be used for dedicated online educational platforms for teaching and learning as approved by institutions,” he said.

  Mobile network operators are already providing zero-rated educational content sites of public universities, TVET and Community Education and Training Colleges, including Agricultural and Nursing colleges.

  Nzimande said collaboration between the department and the telecommunications sector is a huge step forward. 

  “Zero-rating means access to institutional websites will be free, although some of the embedded content like YouTube and videos will be charged for,” he said.

  Nzimande added that students including those in private institutions also needed support in accessing data for their online learning; but government is unable to subsidise their data.

  “We appeal to mobile network operators to work with institutions to also offer affordable packages to such students. We are however working towards an affordable higher education loan scheme involving the private sector,” Nzimande said.

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