FREE EDUCATION: THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES
By: Lucky Khanyile
“A good heart and head is always a formidable combination. When you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special” a quote once said by Nelson Mandela.
The late president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, always emphasized the importance of prioritising education and that everyone has a right to education.
While the Minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande, insists that the government is short of funds to give students free education as promised by the ruling party, students were
not pleased at all.
Former Student Representative Council (SRC) President at Durban University of Technology, Mqondisi Duma, said that South Africa is in a state where it can afford free
“When we launched the fees must fall campaign, it was not only about money but the issue of access in the institution of higher learning and success in the institutions and the quality of
education or the system itself,” said Duma.
In their quest for zero percent fee increments, SRCs implemented a national shutdown of higher institutions after a suggested increase of tuition fees.
After several students’ protests across the country for #feesmustfall, President Jacob Zuma finally made the call for zero percent increment. However this was made after students had
taken it to their own hands to make sure that the proposed inflation-linked 6% increase was not a reality.
South Africa is a developing country and after 21 years of democracy, students are adamant that the initially proposed 10.5% increment was going to be contrary.
“As a developing country we must not have a crisis of unemployment caused by the current educational system. This system produces professional slaves, which is why we launched the
campaign. Yes, the government is more than capable to fund free education,” Duma added.
However this means that the government has to come up with 2.7 billion to make sure that institutions continue to run in a proper standard way. This is arguably possible and the late
Steve Biko, would be turning on his grave if this were deemed impossible.
Vice-Chancellor of the Durban University of Technology believes there is no such thing as free education.
“I support the call for fee-free education. However, there is no such thing as free education because it is a service and it costs money to deliver. The question is how best to arrange to
pay for it and my suggestion is that we consider using the tax system,” said Professor Ahmed Bawa.
According to Minister Nzimande, the government does not have enough money to pay for free education for all or at least the agreed zero increment. If this is possible, where will the
money come from?
“The reality at the moment is that there aren’t enough resources. If government was to give me money now to implement free higher education for the poor, we are ready and we know
what it means,” said Nzimande.
This means tax payers are in for a ride. If tax goes extremely high, it means that petrol, food, electricity prizes amongst other things will go high. So education will still be paid for indirectly.
“We are already struggling with the current tax we paying. If the government thinks of increasing tax, it will be bad for us and the country. We paying tax but still we hardly see
We want free education for our children but not like this,” said Zolani Mlangeni, municipal worker.