February 21, 2018

Heher commission says public technical and vocational education should be free

15 November 2017, 12:52 | Max Haynes

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Fin24 reported it had obtained independent confirmation from two sources close to Treasury that Sachs had resigned as the issue of free higher education was steamrolled by Zuma.

The Herher Commission has recommended that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas), which now funds university students, be replaced by the income contingent loan system.

Far from offering free higher education, President Jacob Zuma's report of the Commission on the Feasibility of Fee-Free Higher Education and Training in South Africa might actually harm disadvantaged students, creating a student loan debt crisis similar to that of the U.S. and the United Kingdom, according to experts. The commission said the TVET colleges tended to attract the poorer students who needed more financial and academic support.

The Heher commission's report said that the state had "no capacity" to provide free tertiary education. In addition, lessons from successful economies are that they have well-funded training colleges, thus we too must do the same with our TVETS. It proposes an income contingent loan for those who can not afford within universities, in particular, the missing middle. We know that it was just a recommendation and that is not binding.

"We know that the university will not give us free education". It is also based on the false assumption that it is a fixed variable which can not be changed.

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"Should government be opposed to this model‚ the Commission recommends that government consider the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme‚ an Income Contingency Loan Funding Model proposed by the Ministerial Task Team on Funding for Poor‚ Working Class and Missing Middle Students". This segregation will also take the form of race, where predominantly black students will attend TVET colleges, and the majority of white students will attend universities.

But it recommended that students in the technical, vocational education and training sector should get free education, with grants that covered their full study costs. The point is to make education and training only about talent and comprehensive development of human resources and not about affordability.

South Africa's varsities in late 2015 and early 2016 were rocked with violent protests, with students demanding free education at the nation's higher education facilities.

The Commission has recommended that government increase its expenditure on higher education and training to at least 1 percent of the GDP. It must be placed on the government.

The EFF believes it to be a matter of human rights for education to be de-commodified. But we expected this from the commission. A free decolonized education will only be possible under the EFF leadership.

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