President Jacob Zuma has announced the implementation of free higher education for poor and working-class South African youth with immediate effect as part of Government’s Radical Socio-Economic Transformation. As per the reports published on The New Age Website, the president has been quoted saying that free education and training will be extended to all current and future poor and working class South African students at all public TVET colleges, starting in 2018 and phased-in over a period of five years.
As per the official statement by President Zuma, “The intervention will enable the government to extend fully subsidized free higher education to youth from well over 90% of South African households. All poor and working class South African students enrolled at public TVET Colleges will be funded through grants, not loans”. He further added that all those first year students who have a maximum combined household income of R350 000 per annum will be eligible for NSFAS, an increase from the original R122 000 family income per annum cap. Moreover, the students already coming under the NSFAS packages in their further years of study will get the same to be converted from loans to 100% grants with immediate effect. “For TVET colleges, the full cost of the study will include tuition fee, prescribed study material, meals, accommodation and/or transport” he said.
It’s worth mentioning here that it was last year, Zuma formed a higher commission to look into the affordability of free education at tertiary institutions. Though the commission put forward the fact in their recommendations that, the government was not in a position to afford free education for all, they advised further to make it possible for the poor to at least attain tertiary education. It was further announced by President that government will be increasing subsidies to universities in 2018. He also stated that there will be no fee increment for the academic year 2018 for families having total household income less than R600 000 a year. As per his statement, “Government will increase subsidies to universities from 0.68% to 1% of the GDP over the next five years as recommended by the Heher Commission. The government will also give urgent attention to the refurbishment of old student housing and construction of the new ones, with special attention being given to historically disadvantaged institutions”.