The President of South Africa, in the Government Gazette of 22 January 2016, established a Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training to determine if free education would be feasible for the South African economy.
The Commission is inviting all stakeholders in the higher-education and training sectors, including; students, parents, the business community, organs of State and community based organizations, to submit in writing questions, opinions, or information to the Commission.
The Commission will inquire into, report on, and make recommendations on the feasibility of free higher-education and training.
The inquiry will take into consideration the Constitution of South Africa, relevant higher and basic education legislation, all findings and recommendations of various task teams, and the financial sustainability.
The Commission is scheduled to complete the investigation within a period of eight months from the date of publication of the Commission’s terms of reference, which is January 22, 2016. The Commission will subsequently be required to submit its final report to the President two months after completing the investigation.
Chairperson of the commission Judge Jonathan Heher explained that Government has been investigating the question of free education for the past 18 years.
In addition, interdepartmental discussions investigated the feasibility of free higher-education and training.
“What almost everybody has recommended is that it is not feasible, [since] the money is simply not available,” Heher said.
He further noted that Government is investigating the issue in order to ascertain whether money is available and on what terms it should be provided.
Heher will be assisted by practicing advocate, Gregory Ally, and practicing attorney, Leah Thabisile Khumalo. The Commission has also been provided with access to expert investigators, university professors, and expert witnesses from the Department of Higher Education.
Heher said that the intention of the Commission is not to investigate the issue of free education exclusively within South Africa. Instead, the inquiry will investigate the issue of free education around the world.
The Commission encourages all stakeholders to submit questions, opinions, or information in writing to the Commission, no later than Tuesday, 31 May 2016.
“The whole spectrum of views will be obtained and students will be free to say what they like, as long as it’s relevant to the Commissions mandate.”
Submissions must include:
(a) The full names and contact details of the person/s or entity making the submission;
(b) An indication of the person and/ or entity on whose behalf the submission is being made;
(c) A full list of source documents referred to in the submissions;
(d) An indication of the willingness of such person or institution to present an oral submission to the Commission, if called upon to do so;
(e) The language in which such person or institution shall prefer to make oral submission and
(f) The convenient time frame and venue on which such person or institution shall be available to present oral evidence.
Submissions may be forwarded in any of the official South African languages to firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 0866826936, or visit your nearest magistrates court.
Alternatively, submissions may be addressed to:
Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training
P. O. Box 13Kempton Park