Education unions are encouraged by the South African government’s announcement that university fee increases may be capped and that low-income families may have the increase subsidised to make education more accessible.
The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, said that universities can increase fees by up to eight percent only. In addition, families with household incomes of less than ZAR600,000 (€39,000) can apply to have the increase subsidised.
NAPTOSA: Needs of ‘missing middle’ being considered
“The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA) applauds the fact that the needs of the poor and the ‘missing middle’, which comprises dependents of teachers and other civil servants, are being considered,” said NAPTOSA President Anthea Cereseto.
“Many parents have difficulties in ensuring that their children acquire higher education qualifications,” she said, encouraging the Minister to urgently address the Government’s funding of universities.
NAPTOSA is pressing the Government to look at cost-cutting measures that can further assist in empowering future generations, “so that they can play a meaningful role in uplifting all our communities and building the economy and the country”.
NAPTOSA also hopes that the Presidential Commission investigating the feasibility of free education develops workable proposals for a long-term funding model, she added.
SADTU: Ultimate goal is free quality higher education for all
The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) also welcomed the fact that the poor and ‘missing middle’, which includes teachers, “will not bear the brunt of fee increments for the 2017 academic year”.
However, the union insisted that its principled position remains that South Africa must ultimately provide free higher education for the children of the working class.
The educators’ union also supports the call for a “wealth tax” to fund higher education.