The Department of Military Veterans (DMV) maintains its commitment to paying for education of veterans and their dependents has over the past two years cost R142 million – over R110 million more than the initial budget for both basic and tertiary education.
Max Ozinsky, appointed acting director general of the DMV last year, this week hosted a briefing in Pretoria, originally scheduled to have been presented by Deputy Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Kebby Maphatsoe.
He said provision of education to military veterans and their dependents was a major priority for the DMV and it was now consulting with “various stakeholders” to find lasting solutions.
“Thus far the DMV has received about 3 800 new applications for basic and tertiary education from across the country. At the same time the DMV has committed to continue to provide education support to about five thousand learners/students who received education support last year.
“In total, it is estimated the DMV will provide education support to about nine thousand military veterans and dependents in 2017.” Of the 9000 beneficiaries, there are 5000 continuing students while the rest, 4000, constitutes new beneficiaries. The department has to date provided support to approximately 5800 education beneficiaries.
“The increased demand for education support from military veterans has presented huge financial and administrative challenges for the DMV. These are being attended to through consultations with stakeholders including National Treasury, the departments of Basic and Higher Educations and other relevant institutions such as NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme),” Ozinsky said.
Ozinsky said a departmental policy on education support was being developed with five major objectives. These are to ensure provision of quality education to military veterans and their dependents in line with both the Constitution and the Military Veterans Act; the provision of education to the most needy and vulnerable military veterans must be emphasised; norms and standards must be set for the education and both administration and finance of education support must be effectively and efficiently managed.
The department has also noted that as they provide educational support, there are those who are trying to defraud and abuse the system by inflating tuition fees. “We will be conducting a forensic audit to ensure that we eliminate fraud and deal decisively with those responsible,” warned Ozinsky.
As part of the Military Veterans Benefits Regulations (MVBR), military veterans also have access to critical benefits such as housing, health, burial support, pensions, job creation and placements as well as business support, among other things.