South African Students Congress

A path-braking NSFAS Review Report

12 March 2010

We welcome and appreciate the strategic thrust of the NSFAS review report. Its recommendations are not only epoch-making but also path-breaking, particularly, on the question of free education. Surely, we greatly appreciate the tremendous role played by the NSFAS review committee in not only synthesizing but taking into consideration numerous submissions made by the student movement. Our organization from time immemorial has raised many of the recommendations now contained in the NSFAS review report and we feel vindicated that at last there is recognition of the centrality of these issues.

Free Education

We greatly welcome the acceptance of free education by the report. Surely, this will not go unnoticed by the great majority of the South African working class that has ceaselessly called for free education for its children in order to break the cycle of poverty produced and reproduced by capitalism, pre and post-1994. Unfortunately, we believe that this acceptance of free education is not sufficient and remains largely vague.

It is within this context that we support the suggestion by the Minister (Dr Blade Nzimande) that there should be a "Free Education Committee" that should look into options for the implementation of free education. We would want to warn that this committee should not conduct a "feasibility study" but should investigate an "implementation" plan.

Debt repayment

We are not at all shocked by the realization that NSFAS has been using illegal means to impose interest and to recover loans. We have complained about these for a long time now. We welcome the suggestion that all those who are blacklisted by NSFAS must be removed from the credit bureau. Though welcome, we believe that this does not remove them from the hangman’s noose, and that is why we believe that there must be a total amnesty for all those that are blacklisted and their debts must be scraped because clearly they are unable to repay them.

Funding

The discovery of staggering amounts that are unpaid to NSFAS by the committee shows clearly that the illusion that NSFAS can depend on student repayment under these conditions of unemployment is simply unscientific. We also believe that the call for a "graduate tax" is misguided and would strangle students from poor backgrounds, because as soon as they get employment the lives of many relatives lie squarely on their shoulders.

We believe that only an increase in corporate tax and an increase in taxation for South Africans who earn top-notch salaries can ensure that there is a sustainable fund for free higher education without at the same time financially suffocating the poor working class.

For details Contact

Mbulelo Mandlana (President)
071 879 3408
Lazola Ndamase (Secretary General)
082 679 8718