Free ed­u­ca­tion not pos­si­ble

Com­mis­sion rec­om­mends that stu­dents should pay for fees when they work

African Times - - Front Page - KARABO NGOEPE

THE re­port on the fea­si­bil­ity of free ed­u­ca­tion in the coun­try has found that the state does not have the ca­pac­ity to pro­vide such but other meth­ods could mit­i­gate the sit­u­a­tion.

The re­port which was re­leased by Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma on Mon­day rec­om­mended that stu­dents be given loans which they would only pay back when they started work­ing and met a cer­tain in­come thresh­old.

“The Com­mis­sion rec­om­mends that all un­der­grad­u­ate and post­grad­u­ate stu­dents study­ing at both public and pri­vate uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges, re­gard­less of their fam­ily back­ground, be funded through a cost-shar­ing model of gov­ern­ment guar­an­teed In­comeContin­gency Loans sourced from com­mer­cial banks.

“Through this cost-shar­ing model, the Com­mis­sion rec­om­mends that com­mer­cial banks is­sue gov­ern­ment­guar­an­teed loans to the stu­dents that are payable by the stu­dent upon graduation and at­tain­ment of a spe­cific in­come thresh­old.

“Should the stu­dent fail to reach the re­quired in­come thresh­old, gov­ern­ment bears the sec­ondary li­a­bil­ity,”the re­port said.

The He­her re­port fur­ther sug­gested that in im­ple­ment­ing this model, the ex­ist­ing NSFAS model be re­placed by a new In­come Con­tin­gency Loan Sys­tem. Zuma es­tab­lished the He­her Com­mis­sion in Jan­uary 2016 to in­ves­ti­gate univer­sity fees.

“This was on the foot­steps of na­tion­wide univer­sity shut­downs as stu­dents called for free de­colonised ed­u­ca­tion in the coun­try.

It was chaired by Jus­tice Jonathan Arthur He­her, as­sisted by Adv Gre­gory Ally and Leah Thabisile Khu­malo.

The com­mis­sion also rec­om­mended that gov­ern­ment con­sid­ers the in­tro­duc­tion of a univer­sity fee cap­ping mech­a­nism to avoid the can­celling out ef­fect.

Some key points of the ICL model are the fol­low­ing:

● re­pay­ment only be­gins when the stu­dent reaches a cer­tain thresh­old in­come;

● pay­ments only con­tinue un­til such a time as the loan is paid off;

● the re­pay­ment pe­riod could be set to a max­i­mum pe­riod so as en­sure that pay­ment does not im­pact on re­tire­ment ac­cu­mu­la­tion;

● stu­dents could be al­lowed to set­tle the loan more quickly should they be able to;

● those who em­i­grate could be re­quired to pay off the loan be­fore leav­ing;

● loan is made avail­able to all stu­dents ( Pri­vate and Public Uni­ver­si­ties) ;

● No means test;

● The financing of ev­ery univer­sity stu­dent is achieved through a bank loan at a rate favourable to the stu­dent. Whether such financing should ex­tend to the full cost of ed­u­ca­tion will de­pend solely on the choice of the bor­rower and his need for such an ex­ten­sion;

● Col­lec­tion and re­cov­ery of the loan will be un­der­taken by SARS through its nor­mal pro­cesses.

● The state can guar­an­tee the loan or, bet­ter still, pur­chase the loan, so that the stu­dent be­comes a debtor in its books. Prof Fio­ra­monti, in his model, pro­posed the in­clu­sion of the banks as len­ders to stu­dents, with a gov­ern­ment guar­an­tee, so as to cover the cost for the ini­tial years.

● No stu­dent is obliged to re­pay a loan un­less and un­til his or her in­come reaches a spec­i­fied level. At the low­est spec­i­fied level, the in­ter­est rate is at its low­est but will in­crease in ac­cor­dance with spec­i­fied in­creases in in­come growth.

● If the loan is not re­paid within a spec­i­fied num­ber of years the bal­ance can be writ­ten off.

● The State will re­pay each stu­dent loan to the bank at a given date (say five years from the first ad­vance).

The Com­mis­sion fur­ther rec­om­mended that gov­ern­ment in­crease Block fund­ing to the Post School Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Sec­tor (PSET) as a whole in line with in­creased costs for pro­vid­ing qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion and in­fra­struc­ture needs.

“The Com­mis­sion rec­om­mended that gov­ern­ment in­crease its ex­pen­di­ture on higher ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing to at least 1% of the GDP, in line with com­pa­ra­ble economies.

“The Com­mis­sion fur­ther rec­om­mended that gov­ern­ment pay par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to the Tech­ni­cal and Vo­ca­tional Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing col­leges as they can­not per­form at their cur­rent fund­ing lev­els,”the re­port said.

It added that all stu­dents at TVET Col­leges should re­ceive fully sub­si­dized free ed­u­ca­tion in the form of grants that cover their full cost of study and that no stu­dent should be par­tially funded.

“The Com­mis­sion rec­om­mended that the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) in the fund­ing of univer­sity stu­dents be re­placed by the ICL sys­tem. NSFAS should be re­tained for the pro­vi­sion of the fund­ing of all TVET stu­dents and TVET stu­dent sup­port if such re­ten­tion is con­sid­ered nec­es­sary.

“The Com­mis­sion rec­om­mended for the ap­pli­ca­tion and reg­is­tra­tion fees to be scrapped across the board.”

The re­port also found that there is a se­vere short­age of stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion across the higher ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing sec­tor. The Com­mis­sion rec­om­mended that gov­ern­ment adopt an af­ford­able plan to de­velop more stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion and that His­tor­i­cally Dis­ad­van­taged In­sti­tu­tions be pri­ori­tised.

“The com­mis­sion fur­ther rec­om­mends a Public-Pri­vate Part­ner­ship ap­proach when re­spond­ing to the stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion chal­lenge,” said the re­port.

Po­lit­i­cal par­ties had mixed re­ac­tions to the rec­om­men­da­tions. The Eco­nomic Free­dom Fighters re­jected the pro­posal of only mak­ing TVET col­leges free. Spokesper­son Mbuyiseni Nd­lozi said the Com­mis­sion seemed to sug­gest that those who at­tended uni­ver­si­ties could af­ford higher ed­u­ca­tion, while those who at­tended Tech­ni­cal and Vo­ca­tional Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing (TVET) col­leges were in the main poor.

“It pro­poses an in­come con­tin­gent loan for those who can­not af­ford within uni­ver­si­ties, in par­tic­u­lar, the miss­ing mid­dle. How­ever, we know that al­ready South Africans are over-in­debted, thus young peo­ple will sim­ply tran­si­tion from youth to adult­hood in in­debt­ed­ness. The Com­mis­sion is, there­fore, ask­ing the coun­try to sim­ply po­si­tion the re­spon­si­bil­ity on fu­ture tax­pay­ers and it is not sus­tain­able,” said Nd­lozi.

The ANC also raised con­cerns with it. Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe said whilst they wel­comed the re­lease of the re­port, there were a num­ber of ar­eas which were of con­cern to the party.

“The re­port misses some key ten­ants of the pro­gres­sive agenda we seek to drive. Free ed­u­ca­tion for the poor and the work­ing class is not un­der dis­cus­sion, it is a pol­icy po­si­tion of the ANC.

“What the ANC ex­pects rather is a dis­cus­sion on the modal­i­ties to im­ple­ment it.

“The ANC calls on the gov­ern­ment to re­ject the pro­posal for a cost­shar­ing model which will fur­ther in­debt stu­dents and the dif­fer­ent clas­si­fi­ca­tion of stu­dents.

“The ANC will fur­ther study the com­pre­hen­sive re­port and en­gage gov­ern­ment on how prac­ti­cally and ur­gently we ad­vance the at­tain­ment of fee-free higher ed­u­ca­tion for the work­ing class and the poor,” he said.

Pic­ture: Den­vor de Wee/ Vis­ual Buzz SA

LOANS: Univer­sity stu­dents sup­port the fees must fall protest.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.