Monday, August 24, 2020

Pretoria: The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology has expressed concerns over the delays in the procurement of the laptops for National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) qualifying students.

The committee noted that it is now four months since Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, announced that government will procure laptops for all NSFAS qualifying students in universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

The procurement of laptops for NSFAS students is part of government’s strategy to facilitate multi-modal remote learning and teaching methodologies in order to save the 2020 academic year, as a result of the country being placed under lockdown.

“Students have since been eagerly awaiting the delivery of these laptops, which to date remain undelivered as a result of unnecessary delays in the finalisation of the procurement processes by NSFAS.

“Of great concern, are the allegations brought to the committee, that there is interference with the procurement processes. Attempts are being made to manipulate the procurement process, and to finally get it aborted because certain service providers are not recommended, following supply chain management processes of NSFAS,” committee Chairperson, Philly Mapulane said in a statement on Monday.

Mapulane said the committee takes these allegations seriously and will be following them up with NSFAS Administrator, Dr Randall Carolissen.

“We would like to appeal to Dr Carolissen not to allow any undue interference with the supply chain management processes of NFSAS, and to speedily conclude this process of the procurement of the laptop,s so that students from poor and working class families can be able to study and be taught remotely. The country cannot afford another COVID-19 procurement scandal,” Mapulane said.