The EFF on Monday rejected the Heher Commission’s report on the feasibility of free higher education on the basis that it will create “class segregation”.
President Jacob Zuma finally released the report on Monday, after he received it from the commission in August.
According to Economic Freedom Fighters spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, the Commission seemed to suggest that those who attended universities could afford higher education, while those who attended Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges were in the main poor.
“It proposes an income contingent loan for those who cannot afford within universities, in particular, the missing middle,” reads a statement from Ndlozi.
“However, we know that already South Africans are over-indebted, thus young people will simply transition from youth to adulthood in indebtedness. The Commission is, therefore, asking the country to simply position the responsibility on future taxpayers and it is not sustainable.”
Ndlozi said the Commission’s recommendations implied a class segregation in which universities would remain destination centres for the rich and TVET colleges, for the poor.
“This segregation will also take the form of race, where predominantly black students will attend TVET colleges, and the majority of white students will attend universities.”
“We, therefore, reject the recommendations as they will sustain a segregated student community where the poor, no matter how talented intellectually they are, will go to TVET colleges. And the rich, no matter how intellectually untalented they are, will go to universities.
“The point is to make education and training only about talent and comprehensive development of human resources and not about affordability.
The EFF believed that the government could fund all students in South Africa regardless of whether they chose TVET or University qualifications.
“The EFF has made concrete proposals regarding the expansion of our tax base by nationalising mines and banks to allow the government to source more funding for higher education and training.
“The responsibility of educating young people must not be placed on a loan scheme from the private sector,” said Ndlozi.
“The EFF believes it to be a matter of human rights for education to be de-commodified.”
From the other side of the political spectrum, the Freedom Front Plus expressed its hope that the commission’s recommendation that South Africa cannot afford free higher education would resonate with Zuma.
“In light of this report’s finding, the consistent rumours that President Zuma indeed intends to find R40-billion for free tertiary is extremely disturbing. It is therefore interesting that he now releases this report, which spells out that free studies are just not possible,” said FF Plus MP Anton Alberts in a press statement.
Alberts said that in the present circumstances the focus should be on making better use of that money that is available to ensure that universities function much better.
“Firstly, there should be much more stringent measures put in place to accept school leavers at universities and school standards should be improved to ensure students have a reasonable chance of succeeding in their studies,” said Alberts. —News24