Unisa NSFAS laptop drive is a right step towards 4IR

The University of South Africa (Unisa) is the largest open distance e-learning (ODeL) institution in the continent of Africa, with a massive student headcount of more than 300 000. Among the challenges facing some of the students are connectivity and a serious digital divide for some of the students based in rural areas. To bridge this gap, Unisa and the National Student Funding Aid Scheme (NSFAS) have been providing laptops to needy students. This step is necessary in the era of the fourth industrial revolution.

Unisa and NSFAS have delivered laptops to 95% of the students who met the 60-credit requirement by Unisa. The current budget for 2019 was estimated at R41 280 000.00 for the 8 256 students who opted for laptops, which is funded by the NSFAS learning material allowance (LMA).

It was confirmed that 7 986 students signed the NSFAS bursary forms and were allocated across to all suppliers to receive the laptops.

As of 16 September 2019, it was confirmed that about 7 850 students, a total of 95% of the students who met the requirement for laptops, have received their laptops from the suppliers. As students acquire the eligible status, distribution of the laptops is ongoing via the best 10 of the 12 suppliers and it is done in all 9 provinces.

Lerato Lekala, a first-year Bachelor of Education student from Mamelodi, east of Pretoria, says that her decision to get the laptop was the best decision because of a number of online modules that she is studying. “The laptop has really assisted me with my studies; choosing laptops over money was the best decision. I don’t have to wait on the long queue at the computer lab to utilise the laptop.”

Thabang Molele, a 3rd-year Bachelor of Education student, said that he appreciates the laptop because it assists him with connectivity. “It is easy for me to access myUnisa and I have also learned the basic computer skills.”

Suppliers have since been informed to finalise the delivery of the outstanding laptops before the commencement of exams on 24 October 2019.

The good news is that given the uptake of laptops in 2019, the university and the NSFAS have agreed that there is a need to continue with the distribution of laptops in 2020; the submission has served at MANCOM and was approved.

Source: University of South Africa