United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa on Tuesday urged South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma to provide full details on funding of free higher education in order to avoid a crisis at the country’s universities and colleges.
“President Zuma and his cabinet must urgently spell out this plan in detail to avoid a commotion at registration. Universities have issued statements saying they will not accept walk-in registrations. We certainly do not want to see another situation where police resources are stretched to handle disgruntled students should this promise not materialise,” Holomisa said in a statement.
“Surely the president must realise that it will be too late to wait for the Finance Minister [Malusi Gigaba] to spell out where the money will come from in February. To compound matters, university capacity must be respected in service of effective and efficient education for the greater good.”
In the wake of Zuma’s announcement in December last year that free higher education would be provided for poor students, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema declared 2018 ”the year of free education”. He urged those who could not study further due to lack of funding to go to education institutions of their choice this academic year and register.
The Universities South Africa (USAf), which represents a large number of public universities in the country, has however taken exception to Malema’s statement, and reiterated that no walk-in registrations would be allowed in the 2018 academic year as registrations closed at the end of 2017.
Once the free higher education plan is implemented, student’s progress should be monitored the same way an investment is managed, said Holomisa.
”Unsuccessful students must be removed from the programme. This litmus test should be due every semester. There is a high probability that the effect of a larger graduate population upon societal health generally, and upon reduced associated concomitant state spending on grants and other social aid specifically, justifies the investment.”