Johannesburg – The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) has congratulated the class of 2017 for their "phenomenal performance" and encouraged them to apply to study at tertiary institutions.
"We continue to be encouraged that the national pass rate is increasing and we continue to experience excellence in unusual corners of the country," said NYDA spokesperson Lerato Gambu.
"We wish to encourage the successful matriculants to ensure that they apply and study at an institution of their choice," he said.
Gambu said the agency had taken note of President Jacob Zuma’s announcement last year that tertiary education would be provided free for 90% of the country’s households.
"This is a victory for the students who have for many years led militant struggles demanding free education. We believe that this struggle could not be delayed a day further. The announcement by the President is a historic one," he said.
Gambu also said the agency had taken note of the critics of Zuma’s announcement and condemned such criticism.
"The basis of this strange allegation is largely premised on the Heher Commission report which we rejected outright as we believe that the commission was hijacked by the banks for their own commercial interests. The Commission report sought to create profit out of the misery of the poor in this country, it sought to replace NSFAS with banks thereby indebting our students," he said.
Gambu said the NYDA had written to Zuma to consider revamping the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) from a loan to a full grant, increase the threshold for the poor, define the missing middle to be those who are from households with annual incomes of R600 000, and increase the funding to tertiary institutions to 1% of the total GDP.
"This is derived from the fact that there can be no developmental state which has education as its apex priority not allocating enough resources to education," he said.
Further, the NYDA encourage Zuma to wipe off historical debt and scrap registrations fees, while making use of Public Works buildings across the country to ensure adequate housing for students.
"We also wish to caution against populist and reckless calls by some opposition leaders that encourages students to barge into universities without due process," Gambu said.