Thulane Michael Tlhapi (21) of Carletonville in Gauteng is one of the South African students who recently received a laptop from National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
In recent media briefings, the Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande announced that tertiary institutions must provide NSFAS beneficiaries with electronic devices so that they can continue learning at home during the lockdown period.
Tlhapi is amongst students who still have not been instructed to return to campus. He is a third-year BA Psychology and Tourism Management student at the North-West University.
“I was ecstatic when I received my new laptop because it is currently mandatory for us to learn online. I am now able to submit my tasks and assignments on time, in the comfort of my own home. I am also able to do group tasks online with other students and friends who have laptops,” he explains.
Before receiving the laptop, he was worried about his schoolwork and feared missing out on information because internet cafes and libraries were closed.
“I was starting to feel miserable. Now everything has changed because I am able to access educational information any time of the day or night,” he says.
“Before receiving my laptop, I had to use my cellphone to do some of the assignments. It was not effective. Imagine typing an essay and then a Facebook notification pops up on your screen… that was my reality. Now I am able to concentrate when doing assignments on my laptop. It works better than a cellphone,” he adds.
Tlhapi is the son of a single, unemployed mother who could not afford to pay for his post-matric education. He says NSFAS has played a vital role in making his dream of getting education a reality.
He advises fellow students to put safety first. “Sanitise, stay at home where possible, practise social distancing and wear a face mask when leaving your home. In terms of schoolwork, do not think this lockdown is a break; it is not. Persevere and do not just sit at home and redundantly use the data and laptop that was given to you.”
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.