By – SAnews.gov.za
Pretoria – The Department of Higher Education and Training has encouraged learners with disabilities to take advantage of the opportunities that are available to them.
Higher Education and Training Deputy Minister Mduduzi Manana said although there is a special fund from the department — through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) — to assist learners with disabilities, the uptake is still low.
“At the moment, the proportion of disabled students is roughly estimated to be less than 1% of the total student population in the Post-School Education and Training (PSET) sector, which is a far cry from the department’s target,” said Deputy Minister Manana.
On Monday, the Deputy Minister visited learners at Thiboloha School for the Blind and Deaf in the Free State, where he rolled out the department’s Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Programme.
The programme aims to expose career opportunities within the PSET to learners with disabilities and further share funding opportunities. Through the programme, the department intends to mainstream issues of persons with disabilities in PSET.
“This is the reason I am criss-crossing the country talking to learners to motivate them to take advantage of the opportunities available,” Deputy Minister Manana said.
In addition to tuition and accommodation funds, the Deputy Minister said there are extra funds allocated for assistive devices and technology to help students succeed academically.
He also encouraged learners to apply now for the 2017 academic year. He said matric should not be the ceiling for learners with disabilities.
Last month, Deputy Minister Manana launched the 2016 Apply Now/Khetha Career Guidance campaign in eDumbe, KwaZulu-Natal. The campaign seeks to encourage matrics to apply early to institutions of higher education and training.
Learners at Thiboloha were also informed of opportunities available within the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs), NSFAS, Maluti TVET College, University of Free State – QwaQwa Campus and many other opportunities within PSET.