Minister Nzimande responds to South African Students Congress (SASCO) issues including demand for fee-free Higher Education
28 Jun 2012
The Department of Higher Education and Training has put in place a number of initiatives costing billions of rand to alleviate the burden of fees from poor parents and students in South Africa.
Minister for Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, said this as part of a comprehensive response to a letter of complaints the department received from the South African Students Congress (SASCO) recently.
“Loans and bursaries administered by National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) have been expanded substantially over the last three years, and this has contributed immensely in assisting academically deserving and poor students. Funding the loans and bursaries has tripled from R2, 375 billion in 2008 to R6 billion in 2011. In addition, we have also made available R50 million for post graduate scholarships and R63 million for students with disabilities said,” Minister Nzimande said.
The Minister said that with regards to the demand for free education, he was fully committed for the introduction of fee-free education for the poor becoming a reality sooner rather than later.
“However, I have also noted SASCO’s dissatisfaction with the introduction of a Ministerial Working Group on Fee Free University Education for the poor, and wish to highlight the fact that this working group is not duplicating the work done by the NSFAS Review Committee as SASCO’s memorandum claims.
I would argue that the Working Group be actually allowed to complete its work in order to advise me on the content and scope of a policy framework within which fee free education should be implemented in South Africa,” he said.
Other issues raised by SASCO included:
- That the government speedily introduces Free Quality Education for the working class and poor, in order to discuss the plight of the working class in strengthening the National Democratic Revolution towards the realisation of socialism.
- That the Minister disbands the Working Group on Free-Free University Education for the poor and implants recommendations of the NSFAS review committee urgently. And the drafting of a concise roll out plan for free education.
- That corporate tax be introduced to finance free education with particulars focus on monopoly industries. Education Taxation for the rich and high echelons in the public and private sectors is introduced to finance free education, particularly CEOs, Vice Chancellors, MPs, Cabinet and captains of industry.
- Universities immediately stop withholding students’ results as leverage for payment of fees.
- There must be a moratorium on fee increments in all institutions of higher education in the country.
- The salaries of university executives be reviewed with a view to reduce them and align them to those of senior public servants like DG’s.
- That the privatisation of the above mentioned services be reserved with a view of providing decent working conditions for workers and allow them to access employment benefits.
- That the Ministry plays a more decisive role to ensure transformation of institutions of higher education and training and disband the council and management of the University of Free State as a matter of absolute urgency.
- That the Minister and the Cabinet remember their obligation to implement resolutions of the African national congress and its policy directives and exercise political maturity in this regard.
- That the members of Parliament, deployed by the ANC and particularly the portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training ensures that government implements ANC resolution on free education without fear and favour. Failure to do so renders them as armchair revolutionaries who are not committed and disciplined to the National Digital Repository (NDR) objectives.
“We actually share SASCO’s concerns relating to improving the living and learning environments for students at higher education and training institutions. We are also concerned about the escalating fees at our institutions and ways of addressing these challenges are being explored as part of the work of the funding review committee,” he said.
The Minister added that students should also remember that tuition fees charged by higher education institutions were actually determined by individual university councils and not by the Ministry.
He added that SASCO should make submissions on all investigations that are currently underway with regards to Higher Education and Training in the country. “SASCO is also welcome to invite the department’s officials to your meetings in order to assist you to develop a better understanding of my vision and objectives on post-school education and training.”
Tel: 012 312 5555 / 5538
Fax: 086 586 7047
Cell: 076 883 4144
Issued by: Department of Higher Education and Training
28 Jun 2012
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