Free education in SA not to be implemented now

UNIVERSITY of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pietermaritzburg Student Representative Council (SRC) president Siphelele Nguse said they have started negotiations with the university management regarding student grievances, including registrations for students who owe the university.

Last week student leaders from across South Africa met in Johannesburg with the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, to discuss a way forward around student grievances.

Nguse told Maritzburg Fever reporter, Nqobile Mtolo, that they did not reach a conclusion with the minister.

“We could not reach a conclusion. We will not take our own decisions because we are aware we will be guided by the students,” he said.

At a press briefing with student leaders after the meeting Nzimande said that a tripartite alliance made up of representatives from his department, representatives from the vice chancellor’s office and students, will have to go through all the issues raised by student leaders. He said the committee will have to report back in a month’s time on the issues.

Nzimande also added that his department will look at transforming public works buildings into student accommodation.

“We are also identifying underutilised or unutilised public works buildings throughout the country with the view of converting them into university, college and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) accommodation.

“We also told them we are disproportionately funding historically disadvantaged institutions more because of the nature of the backlogs there.”

Commenting on the student leaders who walked out of the meeting he said he was shocked because they were about to pass a resolution.

Economist, Professor Bonke Dumisa, said the country’s economic situation does not allow free education to be implemented now.

“We can hope to have it in the distant future. There are countries that tried to have immediate free education, but that collapsed. South Africa already is operating at a deficit,” said Dumisa.

He said his comment does not mean he is being insensitive. He said that he understands the financial setbacks faced by most South Africans.

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