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S/Africa: Free education announcement claims false - Presidency

S/Africa: Free education announcement claims false - Presidency

"We can not enter into 2018 where‚ even in a democracy right now‚ students are robbed [of] the access to tertiary education because they do not have the financial capacity". It concludes that fee-free education is not possible, as did a report released by the Davis Tax Commission on Monday.

In the report‚ the Heher team state: "The Commission recommended that government increase its expenditure on higher education and training to at least 1% of the GDP..."

Far from offering free higher education, President Jacob Zuma's report of the Commission on the Feasibility of Fee-Free Higher Education and Training in South Africa might actually harm disadvantaged students, creating a student loan debt crisis similar to that of the USA and the United Kingdom, according to experts.

"Should government be opposed to this model‚ the Commission recommends that government consider the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme‚ an Income Contingency Loan Funding Model proposed by the Ministerial Task Team on Funding for Poor‚ Working Class and Missing Middle Students". Thus, unless we get the political leadership that is willing to nationalise the mines and banks to expand its fiscal capabilities, education will always be the reserve of the rich as it is recommended by the Higher Commission.

The Treasury told the commission that "should the position be taken to fund free education, money would have to be cut from other social priorities".

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Stellenbosch University student Leighton September said: "As a student I am disappointed that free education is not viable at this moment".

One of the faces of last year's #FeesMustFall movement at Wits University, former SRC president Shaeera Kalla, said for students the recommendations in the report were devastating. This meant these students missed the start of the academic year and, for first-year students, missed important events like first-year orientation.

"South Africa needs the type of skills that should come out of TVET colleges‚ but the type of capacity from staff that is in the TVET college sector as well the proper infrastructure and the image in the public about TVET colleges needs to change considerably".

Closer to the city, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) student Anda Dingela said how he felt regarding Zuma's announcement was hard to explain as a black student from a poor background. "We feel like they disregarded the rest of our suggestions", she said. The Commission learnt that NSFAS had not paid out their grants or loans by the time the application and registration fees were due. It is the same thing. "We want the government to pay for education or to make education free for all".