Towards a Just Distribution of Student Funding to Youth with Learning Disabilities in Vocational Education and Training
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Learning disability
technical and vocational education and training colleges
national student financial aid scheme

How to Cite

Nkambule, B., & Ngubane, S. A. (2023). Towards a Just Distribution of Student Funding to Youth with Learning Disabilities in Vocational Education and Training. Research in Educational Policy and Management, 5(2), 124-143.


The funding of higher-education students contributes to their skills development and renders them employable and self-sustainable. Research indicates that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) (a South African tertiary education government funding agency) has done remarkably well in funding a large number of students from historically disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue vocational training. Having noted that disability is an under-researched topic in the South African Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) context, the authors employed a qualitative critical discourse analysis (CDA) approach to analyse the tonal voice of the NSFAS policy text and generate a thematic depiction of its stance on the funding of persons with learning disabilities. A further review of 77 primary and secondary data sources was conducted to triangulate the findings drawn from the NSFAS policy text. The paper exposes the plight of youth with learning disabilities who, due to limited aptitude for academic learning, often languish on the periphery of the entrepreneurial and occupational worlds of work as observers or—if lucky enough to gain entry—serve as unaccredited (self-taught or naturally gifted) semi-skilled and secondary contributors to innovative ideas. Drawing on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 and Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach, the paper highlights the need for a funding policy that acknowledges: 1) the element of heterogeneity in disability; 2) the adoption of a funding eligibility criteria that ensure inclusion and equality for all; and, finally, 3) the need for the funding of learning programmes that accommodate diverse learning styles, developmental needs and knowledge consumption of youth with disabilities. It further advocates for broad-based youth development so that no young person—with or without a disability— lacks access to occupational training to ply a trade in the professional, artisanal, creative, or entrepreneurial realms of the knowledge economy.
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