JZ’s plan filled with flaws
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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