Free ed­u­ca­tion thresh­old prob­lem

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - OPINION -

I DON’T think any­one with any sense would ar­gue that free ed­u­ca­tion was an ab­so­lute must for any coun­try, es­pe­cially one like South Africa.

For that rea­son, Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s de­ci­sion to in­tro­duce this should be wel­comed.

The prob­lem, in my view, lies in the fact that only fam­i­lies with a com­bined in­come of R350 000 or less will qual­ify. Surely this is in­cred­i­bly un­fair to the fam­ily that earns

R351 000 a year?

Just be­cause they earn R1 000 above the thresh­old, they have to fork out tens of thou­sands of rand to pay for food, ac­com­mo­da­tion, books and so on for their off­spring who as­pire to study and achieve a bet­ter life.

Surely there are ways to in­tro­duce this sys­tem more fairly – by, for in­stance, stag­ger­ing the sub­si­dies in ac­cor­dance with the in­come of the fam­i­lies that are af­fected.

As­sum­ing that the fig­ure of

R350 000 will prob­a­bly be fixed for a num­ber of years, many fam­i­lies who will ben­e­fit from this sub­sidy this year will no longer ben­e­fit from it in the years to come be­cause of pay rises.

It would be in­ter­est­ing to know how many peo­ple will ask their em­ploy­ers to cut their salaries so that they can fall within the lim­its.

An­other ques­tion would be: who is go­ing to pay for all of this?

Carl Ham­mersen


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