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It was a happy moment for the Durban University of Technology (DUT) students funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) after a service provider, Pinnacle handed much-needed laptops to the students on behalf of NSFAS from Tuesday, 22 June 2021 to Thursday, 24 June 2021 in DUT’s Durban and Midlands campuses.

Pinnacle, one of South Africa’s leading Information and Communications Technology (ICT) distribution company was represented by Ms Josiane David, who was excited to deliver the laptops and who ensured that the process ran smoothly.

DUT Financial Aid Manager, Mr Absolom Manashe said the laptops were handed over to students who are funded by NSFAS for the year of 2021, that had successfully ordered laptops using the NSFAS system and those orders were approved by DUT.

“Over 300 students were expected on Tuesday, 22 June 2021, and another batch of 300 plus on Wednesday, 23 June 2021. About 150 laptops were delivered in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday, 24 June 2021. This is an initiative that was launched by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande last year, April 2020. He announced that all NSFAS funded students were going to be receiving learning devices, this is the tail end of the process. There is a number of service providers that were appointed by NSFAS to deliver these laptops on behalf of the Department of Higher Education and Training and NSFAS. One of them visited DUT to deliver over 600 laptops just for this week alone,” said Manashe.

He said Pinnacle is one of five service providers that are appointed by NSFAS. He related that there is still a possibility that DUT might be getting other service providers in future who will be delivering laptops.

“Students were expected to select amongst the number of devices that were available or were going to be available on the NSFAS portal. This entire process is an NSFAS process, as DUT we are just assisting with facilitating the logistics because the students are DUT students. We need to make sure that when the service provider is in our premises we have given them a venue and we have done all our security arrangements and logistics arrangements. We need to ensure that the service provider is able to deliver successfully to a pre-identified student, that is why the student is identified at the gate, and then there’s two staff members from DUT who identify the student before the student goes to the service provider to sign for the device,” said Manashe.

He revealed that these devices have a warranty of two years so if anything goes wrong there is a chart included inside the box that advises the student on a number to contact should they need support and advises them what needs to happen should they not receive adequate support. As DUT, he said they are relieved that the process is finally being fulfilled. He said one would have heard amongst the number of issues that the Student Representative Council were raising was the issue of these laptops. He said they have been enquiring, putting a lot of pressure on the funder, NSFAS and the service provider to confirm delivery.

“That has happened so we are relieved that finally these devices were delivered to students and would be assisting students in need with their studies and to make sure that they succeed academically,” he said.

He urged NSFAS students who have ordered laptops but were on the list to not panic as these laptops were for the first batch, they are expecting more deliveries from the service providers. He said they will update the students as soon as they are aware of the next delivery dates.

The first group of students who were excited to receive the laptops came very early to queue outside DUT. Among these students was Nhlakanipho Hlatshwayo (21), a second-year Quantity Surveying student from Klaarwater near Marianhill. He said he had been waiting for his laptop for some time and is excited as he had been relying on his smart phone to attend online classes.

Simthobile Mgojwana (23) from Verulam, a third-year Fine Art student said he had been longing for a laptop for a while but could not afford one. He said every time he had assessments, he had to go to the library, however that will change now.

Pictured: Pinnacle’s Ms Josiane David, Nhlakanipho Hlatshwayo, Simthobile Mgojwana, DUT Financial Aid Manager, Mr Absolom Manashe and Ndumiso Ndlovu.

Simangele Zuma

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