JZ’s plan filled with flaws

Daily Dispatch - - Opinion -

PRES­I­DENT Ja­cob Zuma’s re­ported plan to in­tro­duce free higher ed­u­ca­tion for one year at a cost of R40-bil­lion and at the ex­pense of cru­cial so­cial ser­vices must be re­jected.

Re­ports are that school in­fra­struc­ture, black PhD stu­dents, so­cial grants and homes are all on the chop­ping block. We can­not al­low Zuma to pit poor and work­ing-class black stu­dents against school chil­dren, pen­sion­ers and shack-dwellers.

Equal Ed­u­ca­tion has made over 15 rec­om­men­da­tions on ways to fund ed­u­ca­tion through, for ex­am­ple, cut­ting the bloated cab­i­net, re­duc­ing con­sul­tants and stamp­ing out tax eva­sion by the very wealthy. We have called for a wealth tax and for scrap­ping the fail­ing R2-bil­lion youth wage sub­sidy.

There are ways to sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease so­cial spend­ing but Zuma’s plan ap­par­ently con­tains nearly none. Zuma’s plan, which ap­pears to be sur­fac­ing just one month be­fore the ANC’s elec­tive con­fer­ence, is op­por­tunis­tic and disin­gen­u­ous.

It will likely sink South Africa deeper into junk sta­tus, which means an in­crease in debt ser­vic­ing costs and less money avail­able for so­cial spend­ing.

Zuma’s ma­noeu­vring rep­re­sents the cap­tur­ing of South Africa’s bud­getary process. We re­ject the ma­nip­u­la­tion of le­git­i­mate de­mands and a vi­tal so­cial strug­gle for nar­row po­lit­i­cal ends.

The poor gover­nance and loot­ing that char­ac­terise the Zuma ad­min­is­tra­tion have seen the fis­cus haem­or­rhage money.

Rad­i­cal change in gover­nance is nec­es­sary if we are to have any hope of sus­tain­able, free, qual­ity and equal higher ed­u­ca­tion.

We sup­port the stag­gered in­tro­duc­tion of free higher ed­u­ca­tion; with poor stu­dents be­ing pri­ori­tised, as per our sub­mis­sion to the Fees Com­mis­sion in 2016.

Equal Ed­u­ca­tion has re­peat­edly voiced its sup­port of the #FeesMustFall move­ment and mo­bilised to show sol­i­dar­ity. We’ve done this while con­tin­u­ing many strug­gles for qual­ity and equal ed­u­ca­tion in our pri­mary and high schools. We now call on our com­rades at ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions to refuse to be played by the head of a crim­i­nal syn­di­cate des­per­ate to re­tain a grip on pub­lic re­sources. — Ntuthuzo Nd­zomo, Equal Ed­u­ca­tion deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary, via e-mail

WE wel­come the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing re­port’s af­fir­ma­tion of the need to make ed­u­ca­tion ac­ces­si­ble to all, but re­ject the rec­om­men­da­tion that in­come con­tin­gency loans be adopted as the new fund­ing model for stu­dents.

This will com­mod­ify ed­u­ca­tion and cre­ate an army of young grad­u­ates who are debt-trapped long be­fore they get an op­por­tu­nity to earn an in­come. On the other hand, if stu­dents are charged ex­or­bi­tant fees and in­ter­est rates on risk-free loans that are fully backed up by gov­ern­ment guar­an­tees, banks will be cash-flushed.

We wel­come the rec­om­men­da­tion that more re­sources go to the Vo­ca­tional, Ed­u­ca­tional and Train­ing colleges, but throw­ing money at this sec­tor with­out ad­dress­ing its struc­tural chal­lenges will com­pound its prob­lems.

This sec­tor needs to be re­de­fined and repo­si­tioned so it can re­spond to labour mar­ket de­mands whilst con­tribut­ing to eco­nomic growth.

We agree early child­hood de­vel­op­ment is the miss­ing link in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and much more must be done to in­te­grate it into main­stream ed­u­ca­tion with clear goals and ob­jec­tives. But we find no con­crete so­lu­tion in the He­her re­port.

We’re also dis­ap­pointed the Pres­i­dency took more than two months to re­lease the re­port and when it did, it was with­out a clear po­si­tion or way for­ward. Rather it re­ferred it to an­other struc­ture, the in­ter-min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee, to process it.

These de­lay­ing tac­tics in­di­cate the Pres­i­dency is us­ing ed­u­ca­tion as a pawn in fac­tional bat­tles in the run-up to ANC’s De­cem­ber elec­tive congress.

The gov­ern­ment should fund fee-free qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion by down­siz­ing its ex­ec­u­tive, putting an end to waste­ful, ir­reg­u­lar and fruit­less ex­pen­di­ture, clos­ing the tap on il­licit fi­nan­cial flows and in­creas­ing cor­po­rate in­come tax, among other mea­sures. — Nqabay­omzi Kwankwa, MP, UDM Chief Whip

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