Commission urges S.Africa to boost education funding

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Commission of inquiry established following massive student protests calling for free education

Commission urges S.Africa to boost education funding

By Hassan Isilow  

JOHANNESBURG

A new report on the feasibility of free post-secondary education in South Africa recommends the government boost spending on higher education and training.

The commission suggests that the government increase education funding by nearly a third from 0.25 percent to 1 percent of its GDP, in line with other comparable economies.

Last year President Jacob Zuma set up a commission of inquiry headed by Justice Jonathan Arthur Heher to establish whether it was possible to make post-secondary education free of charge.

This came after thousands of students across the country protested after then-Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced there would be a tuition fee hike for the 2017 academic year.

The report released Monday by Zuma said the commission recommended the government increase bloc funding to the Post School Education and Training Sector (PSET) as a whole in line with increased costs for providing quality education and infrastructure needs.

The commission also recommended that all students studying at both public and private universities be funded through cost-sharing government-guaranteed loans sourced from commercial banks.

“Through this cost-sharing model, the Commission recommends that commercial banks issue government-guaranteed loans to the students that are payable by the student upon graduation and attainment of a specific income threshold,” the report said.

It added: “Should the student fail to reach the required income threshold, government bears the secondary liability,’’

The commission further recommended that application and registration fees be scrapped at all universities.

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