The South African Students’ Congress welcomes the progressive resolutions taken by the NEC Lekgotla, most of which emanate from the national policy conference to which we were full participants.
We particularly welcome the progression in terms of the National Health Insurance from a pilot phase to a fully fledged implementation phase this will go a long way in the betterment of the lives of South Africans.
We also welcome the resolution on the conversion of the post bank into a state owned bank and wish to encourage government departments to begin moving their accounts to this bank once all work is finalized.
The discussion on the mining charter on percentages is a rather misplaced point of departure in our view, the permanent solution in our considered view is the complete transfer of the ownership of the mines into the state for the beneficiation of the people, this will mean that we must nationalize mines starting at 51 percent state ownership of all mines, as opposed to the proposed 30% black shareholder-ship.
The fourth industrial revolution as we have said must be properly dissected in order to avert the negative impact of it on the South African working class work force.
Elements of its negativity can be seen with the recent replacements of workers with machines at Pick’n’Pay and the international monopolies that stand to benefit cases in point being sbux in Institutions of higher learning, and Uber in transport.
These retrenchments quite ironically are happening in the most untransformed of sectors, the manufacturing and the retail sectors. We welcome the purported commission into investigating this.
The upward trends in success rates at basic education has resulted in increased enrolments rates especially for the black poor majority.
This milestone must be celebrated and we have got no doubt that the education grants will play a meaningful role in responding to these increased enrolments. South African Higher education capacity must concomitantly be enlarged.
On Higher education:
In our National General Council in 2016 December we vowed that through all means possible, we will make 2017 the year for free education. It gives us a sense of relief that our efforts have borne some fruits.
The South African Students’ Congress notes with caution the pronouncements of the ANC Lekgotla on higher education in South Africa. The ANC NEC Lekgotla resolved on the introduction of fully subsidized grants to cover the fees of 2018 First years. These grants will be granted under the following broad conditions:
- That the grants will be granted to the poor
- The poor are defined as those who come from families with a combined household income of less than R150 000 PER ANNUM
- That the working class and the missing middle be subsidized through a combination of grants and income contingent affordable loans, with their families providing a household contribution to their studies in proportion to their ability to pay
- The working class and missing middle are defined as those who earn a gross household income of between R150 000 and R600 000
- Students will be required to maintain the adequate academic performance of forfeit the subsidy.
Albeit its limitations, this pronouncement is a victory for the poor and SASCO in particular, which over the years has been a solitary voice in the call for free education in higher education. Student solidarity over the past three years has shown that indeed “united we stand, divided we fall”.
We have vindicated in our stance that political decision making requires willful political thinking and action and not a delegation of such political tasks to beurocrats and task teams. We hope this intervention will lead to a smooth continuation with the 2017 academic year and a swift transition into the 2018 academic year. The ball falls into the court of the administrative body of government and our institutions of higher learning. A political decision has been made all administrators ought to respond.
We have also called for the scrapping of application fees and upfront payments.
Two questions, however, must be answered on the declaration by the ANC led government:
- What does this mean for pipeline students?
- What does it mean for the missing middle students?
A discussion which we shall have with relevant government department and our colleges and universities
Our Philosophy of free education:
The philosophy which drives our conceptualization of free education has been premised on the understanding that education is social need necessary for the developmental trajectory of our country and the self-determination of our people especially the poor and the working class.
It is not some good or commodity whose worth is determined by a price tag hanging over it; with those who have more money getting the better and those who do not have money receiving crumps.
SASCO has advocated for free education in form and in content thus if we are to truly achieve free education we will have to start discussing decommodification of higher education, we will have to discuss freeing education from the grip of market fundamentalism and clutches of capitalism.
Institutions of higher learning are peoples centres for liberation and therefore we should create a peoples education for peoples power.
So long as Universities and colleges will remain at liberty to charge prices, and probably increase them at an unequal scale the grants might not necessarily be of help.
So long as inflation rates fluctuate and economic stability is not static the monetary definition of the poor, working class and missing middle might not yield the desired results. The battle cry is one: Decommodify education in order to realize free education, remove the price tag.
SASCO is very angry with the NSFAS administration. Several students have been forced to drop out of Colleges and Universities because the scheme has up to date; failed to deliver their allowances and agreement forms, this is more prevalent in the TVET sector.
The scheme even has a nerve of opening new applications when they have not paid 2017 applications in August. Some students do not even know if they are approved for 2017. NSFAS has failed students, we blame them for those students who have dropped out, failed the first semester and those being evicted by their landlords.
Before NSFAS could even consider applications for 2018, we demand that all payments due must be processed and disbursed within the next 14 days. We are also aware of some of the TVETs which are responsible for this backlog which delays in submitting the list of students and their registration templates to the NSFAS head quarters.
With the pronouncements by the leading organization in government, the role of NSFAS going forward must be clearly defined in order to avoid any confusion amongst parents and students. The issue of scrapping off the interest on NSFAS Loans must also be addressed immediately.
SASCO is taken aback by the reported corruption of two white managers at the University of Johannesburg. These corrupt university managers have allegedly stolen about R25 million of the money that belongs to students and channelled it towards their personal interests.
We have always held a view that there is widespread corruption in the higher education sector with most companies belonging to university managers. Had this happened in a historically black institution, there would even be the talk of a dissolution of the council but because it happened at the former RAU it is not making headlines nor is it being condemned.
We challenge the University council to prefer criminal charges against the duo; we further challenge the department to set up a team led by the department to investigate corruption in the sector. We have reason to believe this was not an isolated incidence.
A caring government is a responsive and proactive government. The Pronouncement is certainly not an end in itself but a means to an end. We are satisfied with the radical approach to implementation of policies by government. This is the listening government we have been waiting for.
We expect the judicial commission to pronounce no less than what the ANC is proposing, we can only go forward from here. We believe this intervention will widen access.
This administration will go down in history as the first South African administration to provide a fully subsidized grant towards higher education; this for us is the start of free education implementation
The South African Students Congress, therefore, welcomes this progressive and bold decision.
We have spoken, you’ve listened!
Thabo Moloja- President or Tembani Makata –Secretary General
071 875 2224 071 875 2209