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10 Jun 2009 13:07
Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande on Wednesday dismissed media reports that he had advocated free tertiary education for all as a “deliberate misrepresentation” of what he said.
Briefing the media at Parliament, Nzimande said he had in fact suggested free first tertiary education for “poor students”.
In this regard, it would be necessary to look at the critical issues, such as “what is poor; who is poor”, he said.
Free tertiary education for all was out of the question at the moment and there was no reason why those who could afford to pay should not do so.
It was necessary to focus on those students who genuinely could not afford to pay or could afford only to pay a portion of the fees.
The main vehicle to achieve the government’s goal of free first tertiary education for poor students was the National Students’ Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), he said.
The scheme had to be reviewed to improve its reach, because many people “fell through the gap”.
The NSFAS’s current income stipulations and cut-offs meant that the majority of South Africa’s working class was excluded because of their income bands.
Therefore, even though they could really not afford to pay, or could afford only to pay part of the high fees, they could not benefit at all from the scheme, Nzimande said.—Sapa
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