500+ Convene in Côte d’Ivoire for Focus on Sustainability at World Cocoa Foundation Partnership Meeting

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$12 Million in New Funding Announced for Farmer Support Programs; Call to Action on Regional Threat Posed by Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, Oct. 31, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Last week, the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), in collaboration with Le Conseil du Café-Cacao, convened its annual Partnership Meeting in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s […]

NSFAS Chief Executive Msulwa Daca: 2017 centralised applications for Student Financial Aid

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Media statement by the NSFAS Executive Officer, Mr Msulwa Daca on the 2017 centralised applications For Student Financial Aid

Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to this media briefing to update you on the progress made with regard to the 2017 applications for student financial aid, and the activities and processes that we are engaged in around the new student-centred model.

I will talk about a few issues including the processes for NSFAS students that are already funded for 2016.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of our support for students to access and succeed in higher education and training. This 25th anniversary of NSFAS provides us with an opportunity to reflect and appreciate the role of NSFAS and the pride it instils in the country and the continent.

NSFAS has been consistent in the capacity to identify eligible students, providing bursaries and loans, and collecting student loan repayments to replenish the funds available for future generations of students.

We are proud to announce that since the establishment of NSFAS, we have made and introduced a lot of changes in an attempt to improve access particularly to the economically disadvantaged and as a result of this, NSFAS has funded over 1.7 million students since inception, costing R59 billion.

This year alone, we have supported 480 000 economically disadvantaged students to access university and TVET colleges. We thank government for their continued effort and commitment to ensuring that there are adequate financial resources to meet the ever-increasing needs. This year alone, NSFAS has disbursed loans and bursaries to the tune R14 billion. I must emphasise that at universities, NSFAS provide both 100% bursaries and loans to students.

Our partnership with other donors and funders over the years has made it possible for us to stay committed to the course. The SETAs, the Department of Basic Education, the Department of Social Development, provincial governments, the banking sector and other organisations remain important to us as partners. Together with them, we have been able to achieve more.

We are committed to ensure that we work hard to raise enough money from all sectors and allocate the right amount of funding, to the right student, and at the right time. If we all work together, it will not only save us money and time, but it will also ensure that our students are in class 100% of their study period, which is where they are supposed to be. This will help in improving academic performance and ensure that our students complete their studies within allocated time.

The Student Centred Model

In 2010, the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande established the Ministerial Review Committee on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. This was the first ministerial review of NSFAS since its inception in terms of the NSFAS Act in 1999. The establishment of NSFAS as a public entity was a visionary development which enhanced equitable access to higher education. There can be no doubt that NSFAS has made a significant contribution to achieving goals in the policy framework for the transformation of higher education in South Africa during the past decade.

The review came at a time when demands for access to higher education and further education and training outstrip the funds available for student financial aid. Despite the strengths of the scheme, NSFAS was faced with a range of challenges in meeting its legislative mandate and obligations.

The review of NSFAS assessed the strengths and shortcomings of the current scheme and to advise the Minister on the short, medium, and long-term needs for student financial aid to promote the twin goals of equity of access and providing affordable undergraduate education to students from working class and economically disadvantaged communities who cannot afford further or higher education. That is why today we are addressing you on the implementation of some of the resolution taken out of the NSFAS Review.

In 2014, the NSFAS Board approved the implementation of the transformation project, which at the end would see centralised system for all NSFAS processes. The pilot phase commenced in 2014 with an objective to test and deal with some of the challenges that may arise.

We engaged with all our stakeholders to help up. The model was piloted at eleven institutions of higher learning including: Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University; University of Venda; Sol Plaatje University; UNISA; University of Mpumalanga; King Hintsa TVET College; Motheo TVET College; Umfolozi TVET College; South Cape TVET College; and the Ekurhuleni East College.

In 2015, the Board approved the strategy to introduce additional institutions on the pilot phase. During the pilot implementations, consultations were done with some of the student representative councils, NSFAS funders, and institutions of higher learning. But also, the pilot phase was intended to pick up any problems that may arise during full implantation, so that solutions could be created proactively.

In 2017, it will be for the first time that that the entire NSFAS student population would be on the myNSFAS system. We are now completing the migration process from universities and TVET colleges to NSFAS. The system will be fully operation and we anticipate that our students will be more assisted and have less to worry about. We want to see them in class doing what we expect them to do � to study and move on so that we can help more students.

We are all aware of the challenges that our students encounter every year during the registration period. We want to resolve this problem through the new system. Registration fees will be paid for our students in 2017. Students will not be required to re-apply every year for financial aid. They will only apply for NSFAS once and be funded for the duration of their studies. Previously, students needed to apply before the start of every academic year. Under this model, students communicate with NSFAS directly and not through financial offices of universities and TVET colleges, as it has traditionally been the case. NSFAS will receive applications directly from students, process them and communicate the outcomes directly to individual students.

2017 Application for Financial Aid

The countdown has begun. From today, there are only 30 days left before NSFAS closes the applications period for financial aid for 2017. We call upon all teachers, and parents at home to remind the Grade 12 learners to submit their applications before the 30th of November 2016.

We are also concerned that the number of applications received from Grade 12 learners is very minimal. Most of the applications we received are from university students. This is a concern because the reason for the early opening of applications is to be able to assess all applications early and communicate with the applicants before January 2017.

In January, we would like to see all NSFAS students able to walk in at any institution and be able to register without any problems.

On the 01st of August 2016, NSFAS opened centralised applications for the 2017 academic year, inviting all learners who are currently in matric to submit their applications before the closing date of 30 November 2016.

We also extended applications to students who are currently studying at universities and TVET colleges who are not funded by NSFAS, as well as all students who were previously funded by NSFAS but were not funded in 2016.

Since we opened the centralised applications on 01 August 2016, more than 195 668 students have managed to visit our website and we able to successfully register and created the myNSFAS accounts on our website. The myNSFAS account gives your access to your personal profile as a student or as an applicant. It allows you to complete the application form online, attach supporting documents and submit within 10 � 15 minutes. myNSFAS account also allows you to save you application and come back later to continue where you stopped. You can even be able to monitor the stage through which your application has gone.

We have received thousands of manual applications via post, fax and email. We have taken a decision that as we slowly introduce the online base system; we are never going to do away with the manual application forms. As much as the online system is easier for us, we are also considerate of the learners that are in rural areas and have no access to connectivity. For this we have put in little mechanism that will help up to provide support for rural areas.

We are glad to announce that the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) has agreed to assist us by availing the printed forms at all of their community youth development centres in rural and township areas.

We are glad to announce that we are working the Department of Social Development through the ISIBINDI Centres, to assist in distributing and availing manual application forms at 263 community centres throughout the country. At all these centres, there will be agents who have been well trained to assist anyone who would like to complete the online application or the manual application forms.

ISIBINDI is a community development NGO under the National Department of Social Development. From our own side as NSFAS, we have been distributing printed forms in rural areas and have so far assisted thousands of learners to apply. Our rural outreach teams will continue to distribute the forms in the many rural districts they visit in all provinces. Forms are also available at more than 300 campuses of universities and TVET colleges.

Today I am also joined by a representative from Vodacom, Mr Tsepo Rabodi. We are working very closely with Vodacom � through its Foundation � and they have also agreed to help learners apply for NSFAS by providing access to their 81 ICT Teacher Centres across South Africa. Applicants can now make use of these centres to apply for NSFAS. The centres � equipped and connected – are the hub of the district’s teacher-training programme, and are fitted with computer classrooms and internet cafes.

The Teacher Centres are equipped with interactive boards, laptops, desktops, servers, data projectors, routers and printers. The centres provide spaces designed to train teachers on how to integrate ICT in the classroom. They also provide equipment and access to educational content. For NSFAS this is one of the best way of providing access. And we are particularly honours and thankful to have received such an overwhelming support from Vodacom and other government agencies.

Current Challenges due to student protest

Due to recent student protest at all our campuses, we have noticed that there are students who have applied for NSFAS but have not signed their Loan Agreement Forms (LAF) and Schedules of Particulars (SOP) as yet. We are calling on these students to sign their LAFs and SOPs at their respective universities as soon as possible. This is particularly important because NSFAS will not be able to process tuition payments for students who have not signed their agreements. This will affect their 2017 registration as outstanding debt would need to be cleared by that time. We do not want this to leave us in another situation similar as that if historic debt students. If you are a NSFAS funded student now and have not sign your agreement form as yet, please do so before end of November.

We are also under pressure from out funders. Our funders want to fund students that are doing well academically and complete their studies on record time. We have this enormous pressure because of the kind of model we use to incentivise our students. We convert 40% of the loans we give each year into bursaries for students who pass and then give 100% bursaries during their final year of study, provided they meet the graduation requirements.

We encourage all learners who are financially needy, to take advantage of this opportunity before applications close on 30 November 2016. In order to apply, learners must visit our website: www.nsfas.org.za where they will be required to register a personal account on MYNSFAS portal. This account will allow a learner to log in using their password and usernames, to check progress of their applications and funding.

Once this account has been successfully created, learners will now be able to access an online application form, which they can fill in and submit electronically to NSFAS. For learners who will not be able to access the internet, we have made available manual application forms that learners must fill in and send to NSFAS by post, email, or fax. Manual application forms are available for print on the NSFAS website.

Supporting Documents

In order for an application to be successfully processed, applicants must ensure that they complete all sections of the application form and attach all required supporting documents. Applicants need to attach certified copies of the following documents:

Applicant’s Identity Document/Unabridged Birth Certificate;

Identity Document of each household member including parents or legal guardians;

Latest academic transcript or exam results. (If you are currently in Grade 12, you do not need to submit this);

Parent/Legal Guardian’s latest Payslip/Letter of employment (If they are employed);

If parents/guardians are retired, a copy of an official pension slip or bank statement showing pension payment;

If parents/guardians work as informal traders/employees, an affidavit signed by them confirming this;

Death certificate(s), in either/both parents are deceased;

Divorce Decree, if parents are divorced;

If not living with one/both parents, an affidavit stating this and explaining the reasons;

If supported by someone who is not a biological parent or legal guardian, an affidavit explaining the reasons.

Certified copy of a SASSA letter if any of family members are receiving a social grant;

If you have indicated that a dependent in your household is a student, please provide proof of registration or acceptance at the TVET college or university for each dependent; and

If you have a disability, please complete the relevant supporting documents (please see website for details) and submit them with your application form.

All paper applications forms can be posted to this address: NSFAS Loans & Bursaries Department, Private Bag X4, Plumstead, 7801.

All faxed applications can be sent to this fax number: 086 644 2822.

All emailed applications can be sent to this email address: apply@nsfas.org.za

Thank you!

Source: Government of South Africa

Agricultural Activities Allow Refugees to Return to a Normal Life in Southern Chad

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N’DJAMENA,� In Gondje, a large refugee camp lost in the forest not far from Gore, Daniel Debah has made a name for himself as the president of Seed Producers, an association certified by the National Office for Rural Development (Office national de developpement rural or ONDR). Surrounded by his fields of groundnuts and sorghum that stretch as far as the eye can see, he could hardly conceal his satisfaction. I produced all these crops using the seeds that the project distributed to us. I started out with only a few plots of land, and now, look at all this land, he gushes. I can now sell my seeds and feed my family, all thanks to my crops.

Chad is home to the second largest refugee population in Africa. In 2013, Gore and its environs, located 600 kilometers to the south of the Chadian capital, N’Djamena, confronted an unprecedented inrush of refugees and returnees fleeing the outbreaks of violence that rocked the Central African Republic. Three years after their settlement, projects such as the World Bank-financed Emergency Food and Livestock Crisis Response Project are helping nearly 70,000 people begin the process of rebuilding their lives. By giving them the means to return to their agricultural and livestock activities, the project has allowed them to meet their nutritional needs and take back up their livelihoods.

Debah is one of countless refugees who sell their crops at the large market outside the Amboko refugee camp. Also among them is Saint-Cyr Redeybona, who shared his experience: A year ago, I obtained one bag of unshelled groundnut seeds. From this, I harvested four bags of shelled seeds that I sell for 10,000 francs CFA each. This income of roughly 40,000 francs CFA will go toward taking care of household needs and clothing for my family.

Others like Maxime Nodjindo are investing in cassava crops. Nodjindo now supplies cassava cuttings to Gondje’s demonstration plot (used for teaching farming techniques), set up by ONDR with money from the project. This activity guarantees him a steady income, he explained.

Hope Springs Anew

A recent project appraisal carried out by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) revealed that project benefits are being enjoyed by refugees and host populations alike. In a total of 12 villages, two returnee sites, and three refugee camps, upwards of 1,500 households benefited from groundnut seeds, while another 750 were provided with sorghum and millet seeds, stated Ningaro Djimasde.

In addition, the Head of the Livestock Division notes that 173,694 head of cattle owned by 2,512 livestock producers received the necessary vaccinations, care, and anti-parasitic treatment delivered by Gore’s livestock sector. Tchindebe Patekori further discloses that approximately 500 metric tons of cattle cakes and bran were also distributed to help refugees meet the urgent nutritional needs of their herds, thereby averting a disaster.

Nowhere is the success of the efforts to involve refugees in agricultural activities more apparent than in the opening of an agricultural inputs store in the heart of the Amboko market, where all locally-grown seed varieties are sold. Technical support for the store is provided by the National Bureau of Seeds and the National Agricultural Research Institute for Development (ITRAD), which monitors seed quality. It has been so successful that when the need arises, the FAO purchases seeds there for redistribution to various communities, noted Djimasde Ningaro.

In an effort to assist the Chadian government handle this major crisis, the FAO and other international agencies have lent their support to implement the World Bank-financed Emergency Food and Livestock Crisis Response Project. This joint response was the best possible choice, considering the strong complementarities between the UN agencies and the World Bank in terms of their respective mandates, capacities, and comparative advantages, remarked Adama Coulibaly, World Bank resident representative for Chad, while on a visit to the area.

During his visit to the refugee camps, accompanied by the resident representative of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Chad, Coulibaly went on to applaud the hospitality of the host populations who facilitated the successful execution of the project. He framed the emergency operation as an appropriate tool for the humanitarian crisis, bringing speedy assistance to the most vulnerable and hardest hit by the food crisis, while helping the country to embrace the plight of the refugees and help them to become self-reliant.

Source: The World bank

Minister Bathabile Dlamini briefs media on proposed amendments to Social Assistance Act, 1 Nov

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The Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini will on Tuesday, 1 November, brief members of the media on the proposed amendments to the Social Assistance Act.

In September, Cabinet reviewed a proposal from the Department of Social Development for Amendments of the Social Assistance Act and approved for amendments to be released for public comment.

Amongst others; the following amendments will be gazetted for public comments:

Introduction of a Supplementary Benefits Fund for government to provide additional benefits such as funeral benefits and any other benefits linked to a social grant beneficiary, based on needs.

Increasing the value of Child Support Grant (CSG) for orphans and children living in child-headed households (CHH)

Removal of internal mechanisms within SASSA which would allow the applicant or the beneficiary to appeal directly to the Independent Tribunal should they disagree with the decision of SASSA regarding a grant application or review.

The current appeals process in the Social Assistance Act provides for an administrative review of the decision within SASSA. This is causing unnecessary delays in accessing the right to appeal in relation to social grants and delays access to administrative justice.

Members of the media are invited to attend and cover the media briefing arranged as follows:

Date: Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Time: 11h00

Venue: GCIS Imbizo Media Centre, Ground Floor, 120 Plein Street, Parliament, Cape Town

NB: There will be a video link at 1035 Tshedimosetso House – Cnr Frances Baard and Festival streets in Hatfield � Pretoria

Members of the media can RSVP by contacting Mr Jaconia Kobue – 073 026 1111 /jaconiak@dsd.gov.za or Mr Justice Ditshego on 079 4977 426 / justiced@dsd.gov.za

Source: Government of South Africa