MPs lament underfunded higher education sector

2017-05-16 20:45


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Cape Town - From across the political spectrum, MPs lamented the underfunded higher education sector.

Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande presented his department's budget to parliament on Tuesday. 

"Here comes the cynic," said Prof Belinda Bozzoli, DA MP and spokesperson on higher education, as she took to the stand behind the National Assembly's podium.

Education stagnating

She described the ANC-run economy as a "vast Ponzi scheme" that was running out of money.

"The ANC bottom-feeders who rely on patronage for their well-being are getting anxious. More looting needs to be found to appease them," she said.

"Thus, nuclear energy must take priority, even if it means bankrupting us all. For only through a huge new scheme like this can enough be found to mollify those who depend on the 'Politics of the Belly'. Other budget items of unquestionable social good are neglected if they cannot be plundered. Higher education is one of these. And so, as a sector, it is stagnating".

When the debate was concluded, Nzimande responded.

"Honourable Bozzoli, higher education is stagnating? Really? Are you serious?"

He said maybe the DA's thinking was stagnating because they only opposed ideas instead of coming up with new ones.

The EFF's Sipho Mbatha said supporting the budget would be like supporting witchcraft.

He called Nzimande the "worst coward". "You must remember what you struggled for".

Cope MP Deidre Carter said the "crisis in higher education" was due to years of underfunding and funds can be found by "cutting the bloated civil service".

Completely outdated

IFP Prof Themba Msimang and DA MP Andricus van der Westhuizen both referred to the troubled Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges.

Msimang said the available funding covered 62% of all students and 38% were not funded. 

"The building of more campuses and the relevant infrastructure is put on hold".

Van der Westhuizen said 60% of TVET colleges were dysfunctional with a pass rate of less than 40%. 

"The department is only providing 54% of the operating budgets that TVET colleges are entitled to. And due to the complete lack of a capital budget for years, most of the equipment needed for training is completely outdated", he said.

ANC MP Juli Killian said the governing party was as concerned about the underfunding of the post-school sector as the opposition were.

However, she accused the opposition of turning budget constraints into a political tool. 

"We need to do more, but fiscal limitations are making it difficult to move faster", she said. 

Read more on:    blade nzimande  |  cape town  |  economy  |  education

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