South African Students Congress

SASCO demands free education for all!

29 April 2012

The South African Students Congress (SASCO) has been in the forefront of the struggle fortransformation of higher education and further training. We have for the past 20 years been consistent in our call for free quality higher education and further training for all. The commoditisation and commercialisation of education remains the biggest challenge in higher education and society in general. Many of our people, largely from poor and working class backgrounds, are denied access to higher education simply because they do not have the monetary means to buy education.

The ANC has historically rejected the libertarian notion that free education is a private good that should be subjected to the market forces. The 1942 ANC Africa's Claim document "which was adopted by the ANC National Congress on 16 December 1943"unambiously states that the state has a duty to provide education to the 'African Child'. The 1942 Africa's Claim states that: 'The education of the African is a matter of national importance requiring state effort for its realisation. The right of the African child to education, like children ofother sections, must be recognised as a state duty and responsibility'. In2007, the historic 52nd ANC Polokwane congress resolved that free education must be introduced progressively.

Resolution 44 of the Polokwane Congress states that ANC the will 'progressively introduce free education for the poor until under graduate level'. Resolution 46 further places more emphasis on education: 'Education must be prioritised as one of the most important programmes in the next five years'. We are perturbed that despite the ANC Polokwane Congress resolution on progressive realisation of free education, the Ministry of Higher Education and Training does not have a cogent plan on how free education is to beprogressively realised. This simply implies that the fervour and pace at which the realisation of free education depends on the whims of certain state bureaucrats. This means that they have a licence to make impromptu ad hoc announcements on free education' sometimes with the expectation to be celebrated as the most hard working officials in government.

We note the delayed implementation of the ANC 52nd National Congress Resolution toprogressively introduce free education for the working class and poor till undergraduate level. We reject the Working Group set up by the Minister of Higher Education and Training to conduct a study on the actual costing of introducing fee-free education for the working class and poor, because this work has already been done by the 2010 NSFAS Ministerial Committee report. The NSFAS Ministerial Committee report indicates that at the current participation rate of about 17%, and assuming that 25% of students qualify, then in 2012 free education would cost us R 9 435 908 990 and projects up to 2020 with anticipated participation rates of up to 24%. Clearly there is no need for another Working Group to investigate something which is already known.

Whereas we acknowledge an important role played by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), this scheme is unable to assist all needy students. At times, academically prepared and financially needy students are unable to get financial assistance from the NSFAS simply because they are unable to prove that they are poor. These students are sent pillar to post to get affidavits and other supporting documents to prove their state ofdestitution. Worse still, the NSFAS does not have adequate financial resources to provide for all eligible students in need financial assistance. Noting that the bursary scheme for third year students only benefit a few of our black poor students, because 45% would have already dropped out, only 25% finish in record time, and others receive 'opportunistic' bursaries in their third year from graduate recruitment programs of companies to tie them to employmentcontracts, as a result fewer students are covered. This is another window dressing exercise to delay the actual realization of Free Quality Education.

We are astonished that whilst the Department of Health under Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi has made serious strides to roll out National Health Insurance (NHI) and is beginning to pilot the program, the Department of Higher Education and Training under Dr. Bonginkosi Nzimandehas no plan on how free education is to be rolled out, whilst both these resolutions were taken at the ANC Polokwane in 2007. We are outraged by the governments continued funding for bourgeois projects directed at reducing the cost of doing business, whilst stagnating on working class projects like free education.

We are extremely disappointed that institutions of higher learning have increased fees by 8.5% in the past two years, whilst inflation has stood at 6%. In 2012 universities increasedtheir fees by an average of 9.4 %, with UCT having increased by 9.8% and an initial 11% increase by CPUT. We are also impatient of the fact that government allows institutions to cap access by introducing high registration fees which our students cannot afford. Some institutions require exorbitant admission fees so that our black working class students are refused admission. Institutional Autonomy is used to defend these gate keeping and racist tactics of institutions of higher learning in South Africa. Also concerning is that despite the government propaganda about NSFAS covering all cost of study in FET college; this has not necessarily being done. Poor students still find themselves excluded from other necessities for studying and therefore end-up being subjected to not so conducive conditions for learning.

SASCO has declared 2012 as a year for heightened mass action in demand for free education for all. Consistent with this declaration, SASCO will be embarking on a nation-wide freeeducation march to various government departments on 4 May 2012. The main march will be directed to the Department of Higher Education and Training in Tshwane and the Parliament in Cape Town. This mass action is aimed at demonstrating our discontent with the half-hearted commitment to free education by the ANC led government.

Details of the Marches

Province March Venue Contact Main Speaker
Gauteng Pretoria
(National March)
Gather at Tshwane City Hall and Go to the Higher Education Department Nhlamulo Siwela
0724864757
SASCO President
Ngoako Selamolela
Western Cape Cape Town Gather at CPUT Cape Town Campus and March to the National Parliament Monwabisi Luthuli
0729318666
SASCO Secretary General
Themba Masondo
Eastern Cape East London Gather at North End Stadium and march to Church Street Tembani Makata
076 927 8159
SASCO Deputy President
Ntuthuko Makhombothi
Limpopo Polokwane Gather at SABC Park and march to the Premiers Office Precious Banda
076 981 2301
SASCO Deputy Secretary-General
Luzuko Buku
Kwa-Zulu Natal Durban Gather at DUT and march to City Hall Phinda Mofokeng
07367773 9432
SASCO NEC member
Thabiso Letsoara
Mpumalanga Nelspruit Gather at the Groove Traffic Circle and go to the Government Complex Square Sfiso Makhabani
078 427 2744
SASCO NEC member
Daluxolo Vumazonke
Free State Bloemfontein Gather at CUT and go to the Provincial Legislature Tom Thabane
082 510 6532
SASCO Treasure General
Liyanda Maphanga
Northern Cape Kimberly To be Confirmed soon Gift Msitho
078 069 3846
SASCO NEC member
Fortunate Phetha
North West Mafikeng Gather at the Health Department to the Provincial Legislature Sebang Motlhabi
073 161 9665
SASCO NEC member
Nonceba Mhlauli

Contact:

Ngoako Selamolela, SASCO President, 071 875 2224
Themba Masondo, SASCO Secretary General, 079 199 3421