Thulane Michael Tlhapi (21) of Carletonville, Gauteng, is one of the South African students, who recently received a laptop from the 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 Coronavirus lockdown period.
Tlhapi is among the 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. I am relieved because it is currently mandatory for us to learn online. I am now able to submit my tasks and assignments on time from 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, Tlhapi was always worried about his varsity work and feared missing out on educational 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 at any time of the day or night.
“Before receiving my laptop, I had to use my cell phone to do some of the assignments. It was not effective... Now I am able to concentrate when doing assignments on my laptop. It works better than a cell phone,” Tlhapi says.
In order to receive his laptop, Tlhapi was required to participate in his university’s survey to determine which NSFAS students did not have a laptop. After completing the survey, he received a message that he would get a laptop that was delivered to his home within two weeks.
Tlhapi is the son of a single and 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 a higher education a reality.
He is also grateful for the new developments that the Department of Higher Education and Training is introducing to save the academic year, while also ensuring that students’ lives are protected.
He also has a message to fellow students: “Before prioritising your academics, apply the safety precautions given by our government. Sanitise, stay at home, practice social distancing, and wear a face mask when leaving your home.
“In terms of varsity work, don't think this lockdown is a hiatus. It's not. Persevere and don't just sit at home and redundantly use the data/laptop that was given to you. Good luck with your work. Stay safe.”
Students who have enquiries or complaints can call the Department of Higher Education and Training call centre on 0800 872 222, the NSFAS toll-free line on 0800 067 327 or World Skills South Africa on 086 999 0125.