Gordhan: Share your views on funding of free education

2016-10-07 22:28
Former Sars chief Pravin Gordhan. (File, City Press)

Former Sars chief Pravin Gordhan. (File, City Press)

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Cape Town - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is calling on South Africans to share their views on funding free tertiary education as protests continue unabated.

Gordhan will be presenting his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTPBS), also known as the mini-budget, on October 26.

The address comes against the backdrop of a sluggish economy, the looming threat of a possible downgrade by independent ratings agencies, the fees must fall campaign, and uncertainty in global economic conditions.

"There is as usual a balancing act that must be struck to give attention to various competing priorities," Treasury said in a statement on Friday.

"It is in this context that the Minister of Finance Mr Pravin Gordhan invites South Africans to share their views about economic conditions and other issues they would like government to highlight in the MTBPS on 26 October 2016."

The Treasury said Gordhan in particular wanted public views on:

a. Funding of free tertiary education;
b. How South Africa can achieve inclusive economic growth;
c. How South Africa can use its resources to ensure efficiencies; and
d. How the government, civil society, unions and business can work together to achieve the country's economic objectives.

Contributions can be sent through:

Facebook: National Treasury South Africa
Twitter Handle: #MTBPS2016 and Follow @TreasuryRSA
National Treasury website: MTBPS 2016 TIPS

Oral presentations to the department could also be arranged.

The so-called Fees Must Fall movement has been growing across the country as students from all walks of life call for free quality education. They have also come under severe criticism for vandalism and destroying property.

In September, Treasury indicated it would continue discussions with the Department of Higher Education and Training on the fees matter, after Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande announced universities could increase fees by up to 8% for 2017.

It said the results of this process would be made public during the mini-budget.

At the same time, Treasury encouraged National Student Financial Aid Scheme beneficiaries with jobs to start repaying their loans, as it scrambled to find money to subsidise poor students.

“This is part of each citizen’s responsibility to play a part in helping other students who are in need of financial aid,” it said in a statement.

Last year students took their fight for a freeze on tuition fees, until the implementation of free and quality education, all the way to the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Subsequently, President Jacob Zuma announced that students would not have to bear the costs of a fee increase the following year.

Government provided R1.9bn of the R2.3bn shortfall in university funding resulting from the 0% fee increase for 2016.

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