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Written by More Matshediso

A government-subsidised laptop is enabling a first-year university student to adapt to remote learning and forge ahead with her qualification.

Pretty Zikho Nogwaja (22) of Germiston in Ekurhuleni says receiving a laptop from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will assist her in preparing for her mid-year examinations.

She is a first-year student at the University of South Africa and is studying towards a Bachelor of Arts in Community Development.

When the coronavirus (COVID-19) hit the shores of South Africa and started spreading nationwide, students were instructed to stay at home as part of measures to curb the spread of the pandemic.

Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande announced that public universities and colleges would work with NSFAS to ensure that the scheme’s beneficiaries receive electronic devices to enable remote learning.

Fortunately, Nogwaja had initially indicated in her application to NSFAS that she needed a laptop.

“In the application form, I had to choose between getting a book allowance or a laptop. I chose the laptop option because I knew I would need it to complete my assignments and I had no computer at home. So, I applied for the laptop from NSFAS before the lockdown,” she says.

She only received her laptop at the beginning of June and says the first few months of study were frustrating because she was forced to use her cellphone to study online material.

“It was difficult because the phone’s screen is small compared to a book or laptop,” she says.

Nogwaja also received 30GB of data from her university.

“The NSFAS bursary really helped me because I am able to further my studies. Had I not received the bursary, I would not have been able to continue studying after matric,” she says.

Minister Nzimande also announced that NSFAS and Funza Lushaka students would receive 10GB daytime and 20GB night-time free data for three months, starting from 1 June.

Nogwaja advises her fellow students to adapt to the new style of learning and try their best to use the resources that they are given to achieve academic success.

Students who have enquiries or complaints can call the Department of Higher Education and Training’s call centre at 0800 872 222, the NSFAS toll-free line at 0800 067 327 or World Skills South Africa at 086 999 0125.