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It's high time to target private healthcare costs

28 August 2017 - 07:40 By The Times Editorail
File photo.
File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

Koos Bhuda, 36, matriculated in 1998 as the top student at Buhlebesizwe Secondary School, in KwaMhlanga, with distinctions in history and Ndebele.

He could have been the poster child for the #FeesMustFall movement, which only started gaining traction in 2015 despite smaller protests happening on campuses since 1994.

It took Bhuda 10 years to complete his studies and realise his dream of becoming a teacher. He worked as a gardener and studied part-time. In some years he did not have enough money to pay his registration fees, he told The Times in a recent interview.

Then he had to work as a gardener for another year to save up enough money to continue his studies the following year.

Imagine if #FeesMustFall had happened earlier for him. Although he had some support from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, he still had to partly fund his own studies.

Bhuda is a teacher now but it took him a decade to get there. He is a prime example of a promising matric student who should have been snapped up by a tertiary institution in 1998 but he passed through the system without being noticed.

The #FeesMustFall protests had grown in stature by October 2015. Now, almost two years later, the point has been driven home, debated over and over again, and both the government and the universities have been sensitised to the issue. Today we publish an interview on page 3 with a former UKZN SRC president, Minnie Ntuli, who has moved on from protesting to singing in the reality-show competition Idols.

Perhaps South Africans should choose a new #FeesMustFall campaign. The Times is reporting on its front page about the high costs of medical aids and the looming disaster lurking behind the dropping of tax credits.

Time to target private healthcare costs?