Former President Jacob Zuma says he believes the implementation of free higher education for poor and working class students is one of the most important decisions ever made by government.

He was delivering a lecture on free education at the Mangosuthu University of Technology in Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal.

In 2017, Zuma announced that government would subsidize free higher education for the poor. An additional R105 million has now been allocated to fund free education.

Zuma says the youth was beginning to lose faith in the government’s commitment to implementing free higher education for poor and working class student, resulting in nationwide fees-must-fall protests.

“The implementation of free university education for students from poor and working class backgrounds, to me, this was one of the most important decisions that government has ever taken. We said the definition of poor and working class students will now refer to currently enrolled TVET colleges or university from SA households with a combined annual income of up to R350 000 by the 2018 academic year.”

Zuma says education is compulsory and not only a right.

“We have seen many young people being expelled from universities because they could not pay and universities are not kind on that issue. It is business, hard business. You don’t pay, no education. It’s good to ask the question ‘why we have taken 20 years to implement the policy in the Freedom Charter that education should be free and compulsory?’ Our youth was beginning to lose faith in the government’s commitment to implementing the provisions of the Freedom Charter on education.”