South Africa – Higher Education Committee Chairperson Calls for Political Consensus as Agreed in the National Development Plan

The Committee noted with appreciation some Universities that already took steps to accommodate deserving students and urges Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges to do the same

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training has welcomed the policy shift in government, following the President’s announcement of a fee-free dispensation for poor students at universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

“The decision by Government echoes in part the Constitution that states that the state through reasonable means, must make higher education accessible. It is our duty to hold Government accountable and we will make further recommendations to ensure sustainability of the policy” said the Committee Chairperson Ms. Connie September.

“The Committee will double its oversight efforts and make sure that skills development, equity redress and participation in tertiary colleges is doubled” said Ms September

She said the private sector should be encouraged to continue offering scholarships and bursaries to the needy students to ensure that the nation has enriched human resource.

President Jacob Zuma announced in December 2017 that starting in 2018 poor students will not be required to pay fees.

Ms. September said the NDP states that in order to build technical capacity in education requires political consensus and a commitment to work together to advance the goals of improving the quality of education.

She said many South Africans agree that education is crucial as it also plays a major role in the development of quality moral fibre of the society and empowering the people to develop a nation in its diversity.

Ms. September said the Committee noted with appreciation some Universities that already took steps to accommodate deserving students and urges TVET Colleges to do the same.

She said the Committee is happy that government is enhancing opportunities that are aimed at broadening access to higher education for students who could not ordinarily afford to attain post school education.

“The Committee is particularly happy with the focus on the TVET College sector. The policy shift must enable change in a curriculum that does not speak to society needs and does not translate into innovation. The increase in government contribution to higher education as a percentage of GDP is one of the ways to address the underfunding problem in higher education and training as our report suggested,” Ms September said.

She said the Department and relevant institutions must brief the Committee and if there is a need to change legislation to enable the policy as announced for 2018.

“The policy shift provides us with an opportunity to heed the call on the National Development Plan to seek consensus. Such commitment must be made again by all,” stressed Ms September.