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Tuesday, 11 July 2017 10:09

ANC resolves free varsity tuition policy

The ANC policy conference resolved that free higher education for working class, “missing middle” students and the poor must be implemented from next year – “subject to availability of funds”.

 

The resolution still needs to go to the party’s elective conference in December before it can be adopted.

“In line with the resolution of the 52nd and 53rd conferences of the ANC, the ANC government accelerates the implementation of a new financial support model to ensure that academically capable poor, working-class and middle-strata students are supported to access higher education, and receive fully subsidised free higher education and training by 2018, subject to availability of funds,” was stated in the internal report presented at the conference.

The resolution can be seen as a victory for the ANC Youth League, which is pushing for free higher education for the poor. Youth league president Collen Maine said it would have failed if a resolution on free higher education did not materialise.
The Deputy Secretary General of the league, Thandi Moraka, said the body was pleased that the issue of free higher education had received “the necessary support”.

Two years ago, students across the country held #FeesMustFall protests, which led to campuses being closed and a march to the Union Buildings by students. Following the protests, President Jacob Zuma announced a 0% university fee increase in 2016.

But, in September, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said universities could increase fees subject to an 8% cap.

One of the #FeesMustFall student leaders, Mcebo Dlamini, said the resolution taken by the ANC policy conference was ‘a victory.’

The former University of the Witwatersrand student representative council president, who attended the ANC policy conference, said even though the discussions had touched on the financial constraints to implementing fee-free tertiary education, the resolution showed that there was political will, which is what students had been asking for.

“They will have to find money somewhere because money is there but it is lost through corruption and incompetence. For example, you can’t prioritise the bailing out of SAA over free higher education because free higher education is an investment for the country,” said Dlamini.

The Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command was not impressed, accusing the ANC of wanting to “manipulate” and “deceive” people because it is losing support.

At the policy conference, Zuma said he was awaiting the Heher commission’s report on the feasibility of fee-free higher education. The commission was due to conclude its work on June 30, after which Heher has two months to deliver a report to the president.

Zuma said the party was “resolute that no child from a working-class and poor background will be denied access to education”, especially higher education.

Darul Ihsan Media Desk

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