The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - SIVIWE FEKETHA

THE ANC and its leagues yes­ter­day took a swipe at the Fees Com­mis­sion re­port, which de­clared that the coun­try can­not af­ford free ed­u­ca­tion for all peo­ple.

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma ap­pointed a com­mis­sion of in­quiry into the fea­si­bil­ity of fee-free higher ed­u­ca­tion in Jan­uary last year. The move fol­lowed na­tion­wide protests by ter­tiary stu­dents who de­manded ac­cess to free higher ed­u­ca­tion.

On Mon­day, Zuma re­leased the 748-page re­port to mixed re­ac­tions by op­po­si­tion par­ties and in­ter­est groups.

Yes­ter­day, the ANC ex­pressed reser­va­tions over the re­port’s wide-rang­ing rec­om­men­da­tions, say­ing it missed key as­pects of the agenda the ANC-led gov­ern­ment wanted to drive on ed­u­ca­tion.

ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Mantashe said the party would, how­ever, leave it to the gov­ern­ment to ad­dress the lim­i­ta­tions of the re­port.

“While we wel­come the re­lease of the re­port of the He­her Com­mis­sion, there are a num­ber of ar­eas which are of con­cern to the ANC which we trust gov­ern­ment will con­sider in the process of re­spond­ing to the rec­om­men­da­tions of the com­mis­sion. Free ed­u­ca­tion for the poor and the work­ing class is not un­der dis­cus­sion, it is a pol­icy po­si­tion of the ANC,” Mantashe said.

He said what the party ex­pected was a dis­cus­sion on the modal­i­ties to im­ple­ment fee-free ed­u­ca­tion for the work­ing class, adding that it was not a pop­ulist po­si­tion but an adopted pol­icy.

“The ANC calls on gov­ern­ment to re­ject the pro­posal for a cost-shar­ing model which will fur­ther in­debt stu­dents and the dif­fer­ent clas­si­fi­ca­tion of stu­dents,” Mantashe said.

While the ANC Youth League mainly wel­comed the com­mis­sion’s rec­om­men­da­tions, the South African Stu­dents Congress slammed the re­port as be­ing “cor­po­rate in­spired”.

Sasco re­jected the re­port as a waste of time and state re­sources. “What this re­port has done is ac­tu­ally take us back. The com­mis­sion ex­posed the in­ter­nal lim­i­ta­tions of gov­ern­ment and the rul­ing party on in­vest­ing in in­ter­nal ca­pac­ity for pro­gres­sive pol­icy for­mu­la­tion.”

Sasco said pol­icy for­mu­la­tion by the ANC-led gov­ern­ment had to be a func­tion of po­lit­i­cal will and de­ter­mi­na­tion by the state, in­stead of be­ing del­e­gated to “bu­reau­crats, tech­nocrats and ju­rists”.

Sasco also slammed the pro­posal to spend 1% of the gross do­mes­tic prod­uct on higher ed­u­ca­tion, say­ing it was not in line with the gov­ern­ment’s stated plan to make ed­u­ca­tion a pri­or­ity.

The ANC Women’s League also re­jected the rec­om­men­da­tion for the use of com­mer­cial banks to help fund stu­dents from work­ing-class back­grounds who did not qual­ify for the Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme.

“Some of the com­mer­cial banks in South Africa are fin­gered in the ma­nip­u­la­tion of the cur­rency, and the largest share of the top South African banks is owned by for­eign­ers,” said the league’s sec­re­tary­gen­eral, Meokgo Matuba.

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