Free Education Won’t Benefit Poor SA Students, Says NGO


Following the tussle on whether or not government will continue to pay fees for poor SA Students, the Centre for Higher Education and Training says not having to pay fees will not help students.

The Centre for Higher Education Transformation made this submissions at the fees commission investigating the feasibility of free higher education, which has been demanded by protesting students at campuses around the country.

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There, the center’s director, Nico Cloete cautioned that giving poor SA students free education will benefit neither the state government nor the students.

“All over the world in unequal countries free tertiary education doesn’t benefit the poor, it benefits the middle class because much higher proportions of them go to universities. A low portion of the poor actually qualify for university in SA,” he said.

Cloete told the commission that a free-for-all approach simply won’t work.”We must have a different system for the poor, the middle class and … the elite,”

“This thing that you can have one system for everybody while people in the system are hugely different is not going work.” said Cloete.

The National Treasury will give its submission when the hearings continue in Vanderbijlpark, in the south of Johannesburg, on Friday.

Meanwhile,  the South African Union of Students has warned that more campus protests are on the cards as it called for salaries of senior public servants — including the president’s — to be decreased.

The union made its call during a presentation to the commission of inquiry into higher education fees appointed by President Jacob Zuma and chaired by Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Jonathan Heher.

The union through its president Avela Mjajubana said the state should rethink tender procurement processes and reduce salaries for senior state employees, including the president to fund fees of students.

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Mjajubana remined the commission that the union’s short-term goal was to ensure that higher education was free for the poor and “missing middle” — those whose parents worked but did not earn enough to pay tuition fees.