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Mon May 30 16:31:02 SAST 2016

It's impossible. No party can deliver on free education

The Times Editorial | 19 January, 2016 00:15

Sanity must now prevail at our institutions of higher learning, at which protesting students are demanding free education.

If these institutions are to achieve stability our political leaders will have to start telling the truth instead of saying whatever they think will win the favour of the students.

Whether it be the ANC or any other political party making the promises, it would in reality be impossible to provide free education across the board simply by fiat.

There are those among us who will join the students' struggle merely to avoid the financial responsibility of educating their children. Not all parents are struggling financially and not all parents can afford to pay the fees.

We are encouraged by the stand taken by the vice-chancellors of Gauteng universities who said that, although they sympathise with the students' struggle, writing off all debt would be impossible.

They say that if this were done South Africa should expect institutions of higher learning to close in less than six months.

The time has come for all of us to face reality and work towards finding solutions that will not be to the disadvantage of those who want a better tomorrow.

It is unacceptable that, after the government and others have set aside more money for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, the students continue to shift the goalposts.

If this protest is left unchecked we might lose the little infrastructure we have at these institutions to arson and activists, whose ultimate goal seems to be the imposition of total chaos.

We agree with the ANC's subcommittee on education that support should be given to the students' proposals.

The financial aid scheme has allocated R10-billion to support students and an additional R4.5-billion will be provided by the state for this year.

If education is a national priority, then our actions should reflect that.

Is it our lifestyle that matters most, or the education of our children?


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