The Department of Military Veterans (DMV) provided education support to more than 7 000 military veterans and their dependents last year and needs just on R500 million to provide the same service to more people this year.
According to the SA government news agency publication, SANews, this support is one of the major benefits coming to South Africa’s community of military veterans because it can change lives for the better, spokesman Mbulelo Musi said.
During the 2017 academic year, the DMV provided education support to 7 712 military veterans and beneficiaries. Of those supported, 4 966 were given support for basic education and 2 746 for tertiary studies.
The DMV, under the leadership of Deputy Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Kebby Maphatsoe, paid R177.5 million in education grants for the 2017 academic year – R115 million going to higher education and training and R62 million to basic education.
The DMV has been assisting military veterans and their dependants since 2013. In its first intake, the department supported 200 students for both basic and higher education.
Rising demand means an increased budget is needed to accommodate the rise in the number of applications for educational assistance.
“These numbers have increased considerably compared to the department’s forecasting due to changing socio-economic conditions of military veterans and increased awareness amongst military veterans about the benefit,” Musi is reported by SANews as saying.
“The department received 9 645 new applications for the 2018 academic year, for both new and continuing education assistance grants. More than four thousand eight hundred of these are for higher education and training and 4 772 for basic education.
“Of the 9 645 applications received, 4 054 are new applications and 5 591 continue from 2017,” Musi said.
The number is expected to rise to the 11 600 mark this year. As a result, the DMV will need approximately R489 million to assist the 2018 academic year applications.
According to him, the DMV allocated R155 million for education support benefit in the 2018/18 financial year – leaving a shortfall of R334 million.
For the DMV to carry the current 7 606 beneficiaries R288.5 million is needed and a deficit of R133.5 million will occur from the current budget allocation, he said.