Zuma has no plans to free education programme

15 November, 2017, 00:52 | Author: Laverne Higgins
  • President Jacob Zuma addressing the media at the Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Services Prison during the 40th anniversary of the death of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko 12 September 2017 Pretoria

Officially called the "Report of the Commission into the Feasibility of Fee-Free Higher Education and Training in South Africa", the document is a study into the possibility of free tertiary education in the country.

"Should the student fail to reach the required income threshold, government bares the secondary liability", the report said.

While the report found that fee-free university education isn't feasible, the recommendation to remove application and registration fees is an enabling move that removes the first level of financial exclusion.

The collection and recovery of the loan will be undertaken by the South African Revenue Service.

"I think it's a good model but it will probably work if government provides guarantee for the repayment of loans". It proposes an income contingent loan for those who can not afford within universities, in particular, the missing middle.

"Closer examination of the specific loan requirements and graduates' future job prospects would be required to determine possible consequences".

The report recommended that funding for higher education and training is increased for "providing quality education and infrastructure needs". It said the priorities in the Community Education and Training (CET) sector, TVET colleges and universities needed to be balanced.

It also recommended that all students should be funded through a cost-sharing model of government guaranteed income-contingency loans sources by commercial banks.

Tensions rise in Zimbabwe as military tanks near the capital
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The findings contradict Zuma's unconfirmed and populist plan of pushing for a free-higher education policy for students coming from families earning a combined annual income of not more than R350 000.

The Presidency has denied this.

On Monday, the Presidency announced it would release the highly anticipated report.

This came after thousands of students across the country protested after then-Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced there would be a tuition fee hike for the 2017 academic year.

At the time, Zuma said he was studying and working on the report's contents and consulting the relevant ministers, excluding Nzimande, who was sacked by Zuma in his cabinet reshuffle in October.

It was set up to "add to into the body of knowledge and evidence that will inform government's decision making process in pursuit of a sustainable solution to the on-going higher education funding matter", the presidency said.

However‚ in his address to the National Council of Provinces last week‚ Zuma did not make any major pronouncements when dealing with the issue‚ only stating that he was still in consultation with an inter-ministerial committee and the Presidential Fiscal Committee to decide how to respond to the Heher Commission report.

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