Yesterday, 14 January 2016, the President of the Republic of South Africa, Comrade Jacob Zuma, made a landmark announcement establishing the Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education Funding and other funding issues. This Commission, which the ANC heartily welcomes, is but one of consistent and decisive interventions by the ANC government to realize the Freedom Charter demand that the doors of learning and culture shall be opened. Specifically, it brings us one step closer to ensuring that “higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit”
The Commission is not set up to review ANC or government policy which is unambiguous in its declaration that government shall move steadily and determinedly towards the progressive realisation of free education; particularly for the poorest of the poor. Rather, the Commission will advise on how we realise our objective of delivering free and quality education as demanded the lodestar of our political programme of action, the Freedom Charter.
Since 1994, the ANC has demonstrated its unwavering commitment to this ideal and counts amongst its many successes the extensive roll out of a no-fee policy in more than 80% of schools, the much needed introduction of school nutrition programmes in schools – providing what is sometimes the single decent meal of the day for vulnerable children – and more than 9 billion rand allocated to fund deserving students in tertiary education in the last financial year – set to increase even further in 2016/17 and beyond.
The ANC calls on all stakeholders to support the work of the Commission. We further urge students to continue playing a critical and constructive role in underpinning the urgency for government to resolve matters relating to the funding and transformation of institutions of higher learning.
Part of this constructive role is ensuring that the poor students are not further marginalized through the blocking of physical registration at the various institutions. Online registration once again disadvantages the children of the working class with no access to such facilities.
For the doors of learning to be truly opened to all, students should not be barred from physical registration which levels the playing fields for all and mitigates against practices which entrench inequality.
Issued by ANC