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Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has revealed that her department suspended the recruitment of new students in its scholarship programme.
Zulu said the students already in the programme would continue to be funded until they finish their studies.
She revealed this when she was responding in writing to parliamentary questions from DA MP Bridget Masango.
Masango had enquired whether the department funded bursaries for social workers in the 2020 and 2021 academic years.
She also wanted to know the number of bursaries that have been allocated for the two academic years.
In her written response, Zulu said the department had funded the social worker students in the 2020 and 2021.
Zulu also said 925 social work students were funded through the scholarship programme in 2019. She said 389 students were funded in 2020 and 156 this year.
Zulu blamed the decrease in the number of funded students to the budget cuts.
“The lesser number of students have been awarded scholarships since 2019/20 because of the reduction of funds,” she said.
Zulu stated that the allocation for social worker scholarships was reduced in the period between 2017 and 2019 to fund the conditional grant for employment of social work graduates.
“This grant was implemented over a period of three years (2017-2019), therefore, the department suspended recruitment of new students in the scholarship programme.
“All students funded in 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22 are those who were previously funded and were in the process of completing their studies,” she said.