Students debate education spending with MP

2010-03-05 13:47

UNIVERSITY students, protesting for more affordable education, held

a debate on their demands with a member of Parliament outside the Houses of


One student, with a skateboard tucked under his arm, told the

chairperson of Parliament’s portfolio committee on education Marius Fransman,

that it was “unfair” that the government spent billions on stadiums for the Fifa

World Cup while many students struggled to pay their way through


“There is no justification for you spending what you do on the

World Cup,” the student said.

Fransman answered: “Do you know what percentage of the budget is

spent on education? It is 20%. It is the biggest portion of a budget spent on

education anywhere in the world.”

“We don’t have power (to confirm the 20% figure),” the student

retorted. “The government must open its budget books and show us where the money

is going.”

The group of about 200 students marched to Parliament to demand

“the acceleration of free education”.

Mbulelo Mdlalana, the president of South African Students’

Congress, said during the debate that the ANC-led government had to relook at

its funding model for universities.

“We want to see the decorporatisation of university education in

this country,” Mdlalana said. “The problem for us is the way the education

budget is being spent.

“Universities with surpluses are receiving more money than those

with deficits. It’s the poor who are suffering.

“You can not divorce academics from financial problems.”

Fransman agreed that South Africa needed a “far more affordable”

tertiary education system.

“It is way too expensive for most students to study engineering and

medical sciences,” he said. “We have to see a much more affordable education

system in this country. It must be accessible and the dropout rates must be

dealt with.”

Often students lost parents and became the sole head of the house,

he added. “We must be sensitive to those things.”

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