Acting Director-General Nontobeko Mafu: Education support benefit for military veterans and their dependents

Military Veterans education support benefit update

Welcome to this joint media briefing between SANMVA and the Department of Military Veterans which is focusing on the Department’s education support. Key focus is on the progress, achievements made and challenges faced as well as mitigating factors that are put in place.

Education support benefit is one of the most critical benefits that the Department provides with the view to change the lives of military veterans and their beneficiaries for the better.

The Department of Military veterans started assisting military veterans and their dependents in 2013. Its first intake was a mere 200 students for both basic and higher education. Significant achievement has been made to date that is far above the planned targets.

The Department had planned to support 4500 military veterans and their dependents in 2017/18 financial year however to date it has supported 7712. These numbers have increased considerably compared to the Department’s forecasting due to the changing socio-economic conditions of military veterans and the increased awareness amongst military veterans about the benefit.

During the 2017 academic year, the DMV provided education support to 7712 Military Veterans and beneficiaries. (4966 in basic and 2746 in tertiary)

The Department has to date paid R177, 5 million for the 2017 academic year (R115, million for tertiary and R62,million for basic).

The Department has received 9645 new applications for the 2018 academic year, a total for both new and continuing.(4873 tertiary and 4772 basic). Of the 9645 applications received 4054 are new applications (2313 tertiary and 1741 basic. 5591 are continuing from 2017(2560 tertiary and 3031 basic.

Financial Implications for 2018

It should be noted however that the number is expected to rise to 11 600 (5023 tertiary and 6637 basic), as 2015 continuing applicants from 2017 (150 tertiary and 1865 basic) have not yet submitted their applications for assistance in 2018. The Department has an obligation to assist continuing students.

The Department will therefore need approximately R489 million in order to assist 11 600 applications for the academic year 2018. For the financial year 2018/19 the Department has allocated R 155 million for education support benefit. This means that the Department will need for R R334 million in order to disburse the education support benefit for 11600 students.

In order for the Department to carry over the current 7606 beneficiaries an amount of R288.5 million is needed and therefore a deficit of R133, 5 million from the current budget allocation.

The Department is aware that there were glitches in payments in the previous academic year and the Department is working on the glitches. The Department takes full responsibility for the defaulted payments and assures that this matter is addressed as a matter of urgency and therefore calls upon all the affected institutions to treat the payment defaulting students considerately.

Over and above the financial constraints the Department has received budget cuts by National Treasury of 5% for the coming financial year. This reduces the pre allocated budgets to R627 million from the initial allocated R660 million.

With President JG Zuma’s announcing that education is free for deserving students the department is hoping that this will assist in reducing the Department’s resource constraints on education support.

The Department is currently putting the mitigation plans in place as follows:

Finalisation of the Regulations

Policy finalisation that will allow the Department to implement the means testing effectively

Engaging of Departments of Basic and Higher Education

Engaging National Treasury for sustainable funding solution for education support

Cleaning of the military veterans database to ensure benefits disbursement to deserving military veterans

Seek guidance from the Executive Authority

Consultation with SANMVA and military veterans associations

Therefore this joint media conference between SANMVA and the Department; we call all military veterans community to bear with the Department and assist the smooth resolution of the challenges relating education support programme. We urge the students who have not submitted their continuing applications to do so by 31 January 2018 to assist the Department in finalizing the processing of application for 2018.

In conclusion the Department and SANMVA would like to congratulate the class of 2017 military veterans and their beneficiaries and further wish them well in their future endeavors.

Source: Government of South Africa