Marcus: Wealth tax not the only way to fund universities

Former Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus. (AFP, Lionel Bonaventure)
Former Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus. (AFP, Lionel Bonaventure)

Johannesburg - According to former Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus, a wealth tax and an increase in VAT are not the only options to fund tertiary education.

Marcus was delivering a keynote address at the annual Helen Suzman Memorial Lecture in Johannesburg on Tuesday evening. She called for a holistic approach to education, with greater emphasis on early childhood education.

Ability to learn below the age of seven is huge, Marcus said. “We need to look at education in that totality,” she said. She said attention should be given to the entire education system.

Commenting on the problems relating to the funding of higher education in South Africa, Marcus said there is a need to prioritise. “National government needs to look at prioritisation. South Africa has challenges at every level.That is our legacy,” she said.

She called upon all South Africans to play a role in addressing the problems facing education. “It is not only about what government can do... All of us have a leadership role. We all have obligations, at every level,in every sphere. There is no use just pointing fingers,” she said. Consideration should be given to an “education RDP” to which everyone would contribute, she said.

Marcus also zoomed into the high unemployment rate in South Africa. Statistics South Africa last week announced that unemployment in the third quarter of this year had risen to 25.5%. That was the rate of unemployment during the Great Depression, she said. “It was a crisis. Our focus should be unemployment and the key to this is education,” she said.

She said there was contraction in some of the key sectors of the economy, resulting in slower absorption of new entrants in the job market.

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