South Africa, Pretoria – The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has appointed bidders to distribute laptops to students for next year, Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Dr Blade Nzimande said yesterday.
Nzimande apologised to students for the delays and said the department had ensured that the procurement processes were followed strictly. He said the administrator had received 140 bid proposals, which were evaluated by its bid evaluation and adjudication committees.
The deadline was September 21.
From that number, the tender was awarded on November 2 to five bidders who, according to Nzimande, would be working alongside the department and institutions in the delivery of the laptops.
Nzimande said all that was outstanding was to complete the contractual arrangements with the successful service providers.
“I thank NSFAS for finalising the process and note that given that the procurement process has been concluded much later than originally planned, the laptops will now be distributed in the new academic year.”
He also said his department was awaiting communication from university councils on the proposed fee increases that his department gazetted on October 5.
The department proposed that tuition fees only be increased by 4.7% and accommodation by 6.7% in line with previous years.
Of his department’s work to ensure the minimal spread of the pandemic, Nzimande said its health and wellness agency had assembled a multidisciplinary investigation team to contain cluster outbreaks that had broken out in several institutions across the country.
Nzimande said there had been a few “cluster outbreaks” that had been experienced at several institutions over the past few weeks, especially in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
He said Higher Health, the department’s agency in supporting its response to Covid-19 across the Post Schooling Education and Training system since lockdown level 5, had set up the team to contain and manage the recent outbreaks of the virus.
The team consists of members from the World Health Organization, Health Department and National Health Laboratory Services.
The team has, according to Nzimande, already been at work with the early identification of infected students and staff, identifying their contacts and appropriately assisting them with early isolation and quarantine.
This has ensured no cases in the past week, even though they still anticipated more cluster outbreaks.
Additionally, he said they had also negotiated with the laboratory services to reduce the confirmation time for results, with more than 600 students and staff being tested and those positive having been admitted to quarantine and health facilities.
“Personally, I am observing that many people have forgotten about the rules; it looks like we are now back to ordinarily shaking hands.
“What’s the point of saying clean your hands regularly instead of using your elbow to greet each other?
“It’s important we remind ourselves not to greet using our hands and to maintain social distancing, and I appeal to students and staff to stick to preventive measures.”
On completion of the current academic year, the minister said all universities were set to complete it, with the latest expected to do so by March.