The higher education minister this week said, in parliament , that if the government wanted to enforce free education, then it can’t be for everyone.
This follows two weeks of #FeesMustFall protests at universities around the country calling for free education.
Nzimande also urged NSFAS to stop relying only on government funding to operate.
NSFAS spokesman, Kagisho Mamabolo, was a guest at our VIP Debate Club: An Audience With NSFAS, we hosted NSFAS a few days before the Nzimande’s parliament appearance and he had stated that the only way for them to get more money, outside government funding, is for former loan recipients to pay back the money.
Here is an update of where things stand at the moment.
Higher education ministers receive grilling in parliament
Nzimande and Deputy Minister for Higher Education, Mduduzi Manana, appeared before parliament this week where they received a grilling from MPs.
ANC MP, Madipoane Mothapo said the NSFAS loan recovery system needed to be strengthened but that this was something the scheme was working on.
Nzimande admitted that if they’d stuck to the current NSFAS model, they’d need an additional R3 billion to fund students.
At our debate held in Cape Town, Kagisho also said that NSFAS was trying to find other ways to fund itself including partnering with the private sector and raising funds.
How will NSFAS funding crisis be addressed?
Nzimande told the committee that the government was working on short-term and medium-term solutions to the funding needs in the education sector. They were also looking at other problems that were tabled at the recent Higher Education Summit held in Durban.
Why not look abroad for solutions?
Charles Kekane, ANC MP, asked Nzimande why the country doesn’t look for solutions in terms of what has worked abroad.
Nzimande used Cuba as an example because they have free higher education. But he added that it’s a socialist country unlike South Africa.
Another example he mentioned was Germany but he reiterated that most capitalist countries are not able to fully provide free education.
There are also models on the continent that we can take a few things from so it would be important to study these models closely to try and create our own model, Nzimande added.
Holding image: Kyle Kheswa
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