For the sake of our youth we need to keep politics out of education

Sizwe Nxasana. Picture: Rosetta Msimango/City Press
Sizwe Nxasana. Picture: Rosetta Msimango/City Press

Reports on SABC’s RSG Radio in the last three days regarding the deepening crises at the National Student Financial Aid Scheme cannot be disregarded.

The resignation of Sizwe Nxasana as chairperson of the scheme’s board is an indication of a good captain leaving a bad ship.

Coming from a tenure as chief executive at a very large financial institution, Nxasana must have been frustrated with the escalating issues at the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

His resignation is a serious blow to a possible turnaround in that organisation.

It has also been reported that the scheme is unable to honour commitments to students regarding the 2017 academic year.

Third, the recent acknowledgement of the minister that the scheme crisis forces a freeze on 2019 funding, points to an ugly reality.

Fourth, new waves of unrest at the University of Venda during the last two weeks, could be the opening salvo for Campus Unrest 2018.

Despite views that campus unrest is driven a small number of radicals, the government of the day should, by now, recognise a pattern:

Make a wild promise and under-deliver so that unrest, violence and hate speech flares up. Make wild speeches blaming all except the fact that wild promises were designed to buy votes. Then make more promises in the hope things would calm down.

This pattern reminds one of a desperate cat making desperate moves when cornered. Deflection tactics are wearing thin and the youth are losing patience with empty promises.

Education can no longer be the social experiment and the political toy used by leaders desperate for votes.

Any economy needs skills to grow and the fact that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme funding crisis prevents the youth to further their education is a direct attack on the economic prosperity of a nation that scarified much to obtain a new dispensation.

The VAT increase earlier in the year is starting to backfire. State-owned enterprises constantly stand cap in hand for more funding because prior resources have been wasted.

Worldwide, the youth are becoming impatient with politicians. The unrest in Sweden’s Gothenburg shows remarkable similar themes to what can be seen on home soil.

The International Youth Day Conference in Kampala highlighted the fact, that youth is a force to be reckoned with. The youth have a potential to build and contribute to economic prosperity if given a change.

The youth are the fastest growing population segment in many economies and they feel left out. There is a growing distrust in politicians and their social engineering agendas.

The youth are at the receiving end of failing policies and failing social experiments.

It is time for politicians to realise that certain things in society cannot be managed by politicians. And education is the one thing that should no longer be bruised by the hammy hands of politocrats.

Peter van Nieuwenhuizen is chief financial officer at the Growth Institute, a private education provider offering a range of commercial, technical tourism and hospitality management programmes.

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