Cosatu welcomes 'missing middle' fee announcement

2016-09-19 21:50

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Cape Town – The Congress of South African Trade Unions has welcomed government's decision to subsidise fee increases for the poor and the "missing middle".

"This is a clear sign that government is committed to helping the children of poor, working and middle-class families," national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said in a statement.

This after Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande on Monday announced that university and college increases would be up to the institutions, but would be capped at 8%.

He also announced that students on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme would not bear the brunt of the increase, as it would be subsidised by the government.

They would also subsidise the increases for students who fell under the "missing middle”, where households earned up to R600 000.

They agreed that fee increases should only be focused on those who could afford to pay, Pamla said.

"Cosatu believes that the poor students should not be forced to pay but only those from well-resourced families should be expected to pay. We are also calling on big business, the biggest beneficiaries of our education system, to step up and start funding [it]," he said.

Call for peaceful protests

The union supported the student's argument that the country had enough resources hidden in the pockets of "white monopoly capital that can be harnessed and utilised to provide free education for the vulnerable students".

Pamla called for protests to remain peaceful following the announcement.

"The destruction of property will not bring about free education but will delay it because the resources will have to be redirected to rebuild the damaged infrastructure."

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance's Belinda Bozzoli said Nzimande's announcement raised more questions than answers.

"While Minister Nzimande has committed government to cover fee increases for all poor, working and middle class students at university and TVETs in 2017, he stated that he 'hopes' that the minister of finance will announce funding in the medium term budget policy statement, expected at the end of October," she said.

Making such an announcement, without a commitment from the Treasury, verges on the irresponsible, the DA said.

"Besides this glaring gap in the announcement, Minister Nzimande provided us with no assurance that the higher education sector would not again have to pay for all or a part of the additional support to students."

Read more on:    cosatu  |  da  |  university fees

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