Cor­po­rati­sa­tion of stu­dent fund­ing a back­ward step

Grocott's Mail - - MAKANA VOICES -

The Mail & Guardian, (22 De­cem­ber 2016 to 5 Jan­uary 2017), pub­lished an ar­ti­cle about a tabled Gazette for Cabi­net to ap­prove a part­ner­ship of the pri­vate sec­tor and govern­ment on es­tab­lish­ing a new stu­dent fund­ing en­tity called Ikusasa Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Pro­gramme (ISFAS).

The ar­ti­cle ti­tled “Stu­dent aid may have a new fu­ture” is a re­sult of a Min­is­te­rial Task Team re­port on cre­ation of new a fund­ing model for the “miss­ing mid­dle” and the poor.

The Min­is­ter of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing, Com­rade Blade Nz­i­mande ap­pointed Sizwe Nx­as­ana, the for­mer FirstRand CEO to chair the task team.

The ar­ti­cle says the re­port seeks to pro­pose that govern­ment must do­nate the Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme to pri­vate cap­i­tal, as it does not have con­fi­dence in NSFAS’s sys­tems to ser­vice South African stu­dents in need. In the ar­ti­cle it is stated that, “given NSFAS’s legacy is­sues it will be very dif­fi­cult to re­store the con­fi­dence of the pri­vate sec­tor to start fund­ing NSFAS.”

The lat­ter is a demon­stra­tion of how mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal­ism ar­ro­gance is and that is dis­gust­ing.

That tells you sim­ply that pri­vate sec­tor is not in­ter­ested in the well-be­ing of govern­ment and the poor, be­sides ben­e­fit­ing from it in what­ever way pos­si­ble.

NSFAS could be called all sorts of things by those who are not happy with it, but to push it to take a back seat in part­ner­ship with pri­vate sec­tor af­ter what it has done for poor South Africans, it will be a se­ri­ous ac­ci­dent of his­tory.

This public-pri­vate part­ner­ship agree­ment pro­posed for NSFAS and new spe­cial man­age­ment com­pa­nies, called ManCo and FundCo will be an ide­o­log­i­cal con- tra­dic­tion to­wards the re­al­i­sa­tion of free ed­u­ca­tion and so­cial­ism in South Africa.

A few years back, the Min­is­ter of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing com­mis­sioned a re­view of NSFAS in what some of us in the stu­dent move­ment used to call, “the Bal­in­tulo Com­mis­sion”.

At the Sasco 16th Na­tional Congress in Dur­ban, Com­rade Blade said, “You would all be aware of the min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee re­view­ing the ef­fi­cacy of the Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

I in­sti­tuted this eval­u­a­tion shortly af­ter my ap­point­ment be­cause it is gen­er­ally recog­nised that the scheme has acute short­com­ings in pro­vid­ing ad­e­quate sup­port for needy stu­dents.

“As a re­sult of these short­com­ings, poor stu­dents and their par­ents have to re­sort to un­de­sir­able op­tions such as mashon­isas to fi­nance their stud­ies.

“This prac­tice per­pet­u­ates a cy­cle of debt in thou­sands of poor house­holds around the coun­try and needs to come to an end... In the fi­nal anal­y­sis, the re­vamped NSFAS must give ef­fect to govern­ment’s com­mit­ment to pro­gres­sively in­tro­duce free ed­u­ca­tion for the poor up to un­der­grad­u­ate level.”

There­fore with this ISFAP pro­posal, we need to ask about the Bal­in­tulo re­port and how far NSFAS has moved to re­spond to it.

Thus I ask, is the es­tab­lish­ment of this new scheme a dec­la­ra­tion that NSFAS failed?

If yes, then the port­fo­lio on higher ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing in Par­lia­ment would have in­di­cated it by now.

If it has not failed, then why rein­vent the wheel?

Now that this re­port is in the public do­main, per­haps so­ci­ety and the congress move­ment, par­tic­u­larly the labour unions should unite in re­ject­ing this new “mashon­isa”.

Ide­o­log­i­cally the com­mu­nist party should lead the call in its Fi­nan­cial Sec­tor Cam­paign and the Bat­tle of ideas Com­mis­sion, be­cause it will abuse the poor.

The en­dorse­ment of this scheme will be ide­o­log­i­cally con­tra­dict­ing the very same ANC’s res­o­lu­tion of us­ing the NSFAS to pro­gres­sively mar­shal free ed­u­ca­tion for the poor.

If we sur­ren­der ed­u­ca­tion to the cap­i­tal­ists to man­age, then we would have fully do­nated our­selves and our abil­ity to fight for so­cial­ism.

Lenin was cor­rect in say­ing that, “Ed­u­ca­tion is one of the com­po­nent parts of the strug­gle we are now wag­ing”.

Per­haps the pri­vate inves- tors should have some faith in the NSFAS mis­sion of as­pir­ing “to trans­form NSFAS into an ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive provider of fi­nan­cial aid to stu­dents from poor and work­ing class fam­i­lies in a sus­tain­able man­ner that pro­motes ac­cess to, and suc­cess in, higher and fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing, in pur­suit of South Africa’s na­tional and hu­man re­source devel­op­ment goals”.

In prin­ci­pal, this pro­posal is ide­o­log­i­cal sui­cide, putting NSFAS in the back seat.

• Sive Madala Gu­menge, born in Gra­ham­stown, is the public re­la­tions of­fi­cer of the Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme.

A for­mer Sasco Pro­vin­cial Ex­ec­u­tive Mem­ber in the Western Cape, he de­scribes him­self as an as­pi­rant Min­is­ter of Cul­ture and Ed­u­ca­tion in South Africa, writ­ing this in his per­sonal ca­pac­ity as a South African cit­i­zen.

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