Call for unified engagements to fund free education

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Fees-Must-Fall student leader, Fasiha Hassan, says there is an urgent need for students, universities, the Department of Higher Education, National Treasury and other stakeholders to discuss a way forward on funding free higher education.

This is after President Jacob Zuma’s recent announcement on fee-free education, which was met with mixed reactions.

The presidency released a statement at the weekend detailing plans to subsidise free education for poor and working-class first-year students in 2018.

“How are we actually, like everyone is going to say, how are we going to find the money and make it work. It is important for everyone to know that as students we are very committed to finding a sustainable and feasible way to fund free higher education in a way that doesn’t take away money from fundamental elements of society. What we need to do now is bring everyone into one room and students, have their own model. Universities have done investigations. Treasury has some ideas. But we haven’t actually been speaking to each other. That is something we need to do because for us, it’s not about driving the sector into collapse. It’s about finding a way in which our students are not going to be disadvantaged,” says Hassan.

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Strong call for government to implement free higher education

Science and Technology Minister, Naledi Pandor, who also chairs the subcommittee on education, health and technology says there’s a strong call for government to implement free higher education. Pandor was presenting the subcommittee’s resolutions.

Pandor says while they did not discuss how free higher education would be implemented, they do however have assurance from Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, that it will be discussed during his budget speech next year.

“Also a very very strong call that government must speedily implement the free higher education for poor and working class background and to help middle class and see government implement form 2018 The conference said this is something they want to see government implement from 2018 and they welcomed the announcements that have been made by President Zuma.”

She says the problem of graduates who finish their degrees but are unemployable as a result of weak, or lack of work-related skills must be addressed.

Pandor says the Basic Education department must also intensify efforts to improve literacy and numeracy at all grades, especially at foundation phase.

The committee accepted a resolution that schools must, from now on, teach three languages to promote social cohesion in the country.