Students speak on community service

STUDENTS faced with a year of compulsory community service have mixed views, with some against and others recommending it be incorporated into the curriculum so as not to delay securing jobs or repaying loans.

This comes after the ANC national executive committee’s sub-committee on education and health announced on Tuesday that it would implement the proposal within the next five years. Xolani Matshabisa, a Port Elizabeth pharmacist, did a year of mandatory service after he qualified and said it had laid a solid foundation for his career.

“It gives you a higher level of responsibility and helps to build your character as a professional and member of society.”

University of the Free State honours student Keabetswe Magano, 22, said voluntary hours put in by graduates should be considered. “Either that or incorporate it with tertiary studies. Community service is an eye-opener to reality and a great platform for individuals to understand their world better,” she said.

According to the 2010 Ministerial Review for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NFSA), students should be offered the opportunity to repay bursaries and loans through community or national service in government or the private sector.

Monthly accrual on the interest of amounts owed to NSFAS, which is pegged at 80% of the repo rate, only begins 12 months after students exit from their studies.

Graduate Leesha Deodat said she would take her knowledge and skills overseas.

“This compulsory work will only shatter the hopes and dreams of graduates like me who burn the midnight oil in order to secure well-paying jobs.”

The youth wings of AfriForum and the DA said the proposal would not effectively address skills shortages in the public service sector and students would still face a mountain of debt after the service. – Poppy Louw


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