Mantashe: We must not spend all the money on 'Victorian universities'

2016-10-27 09:49
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

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Cape Town – More money should be invested in tertiary intuitions such as the University of Zululand and Fort Hare, ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe said on Wednesday.

"My view is that there must be direction of fiscal expenditure to historically disadvantaged universities so that they can also be world class. We must not spend all the money on Victorian universities," he said outside Parliament.

"Fort Hare must be like Howard [University] in Harlem. If we can't do that, we are failing society."

Mantashe said government needed to ensure that education was accessible in a sustainable way.

"The [easiest] thing is for the ANC to be populist and say we will give money to everyone standing on corners. But the ANC has a responsibility to ensure that if we increase access to education, it must be systematic.

"That's why the work of the [commission of inquiry into higher education and training] is quite important so that we don't make unscientific commitments that will be there for one or two years and then collapse.

Bigger university subsidies

"You must introduce systems and policies that are sustainable in the medium to long term."

In his medium term budget policy statement, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said an extra R17.6bn is needed over the medium term to fund South Africa's higher education system.

Government will draw from the contingency reserve to make funds available from existing budgets.

A portion of the resources to support university students will be found elsewhere from within the post-school education system.

University subsidies will grow at an annual average rate of 10.9% over the next three years, while allocations to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will be increased at 18.5% providing support to underfunded university students.

In the 2016 budget, R5.6bn was added to university subsidies to fund the shortfall caused by there not being an increase in fees for the 2016 academic year, Gordhan said.

In the same budget, NSFAS received additional funding of R10.6bn over the 2016 medium-term expenditure framework period.

Of this amount, R2.5bn was allocated in the current year for short-term debt relief for 71 753 unfunded or inadequately funded students who were at universities in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 academic years.

The remaining R8bn was for unfunded new and continuing students for the 2016 academic year and beyond.

'Peaceful march'

In the 2017 medium-expenditure framework, government will fund the increase in fees at higher education institutions for the 2017 academic year, up to a maximum of 8% for students from households earning up to R600 000 per year, Gordhan said, while top-ups will also be made to the NSFAS.

Before his speech, he accepted a memorandum from 'Fees Must Fall' students who gathered in their thousands outside Parliament.

Later, stun grenades were fired by police to disperse student protesters after a makeshift coffin was set alight and thrown over the heads of police officers.

A stampede ensued and stones were flung.

A water cannon was used at the Plein Street entrance to Parliament.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the violent actions, both on the side of police and the students, "simply can't be something we continue as a culture".

The party also marched to Parliament to demand that government provide more funding to higher education.

"It was a peaceful march. Ultimately it demonstrated that it is possible to protest, bring your message and negotiate in a peaceful manner."

Read more on:    pravin gordhan  |  gwede mantashe  |  cape town  |  education  |  university fees  |  university protests

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