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Students forget progress made towards free education: Mantashe

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South Africa is a victim of its own success with many having forgotten the ANC’s progress towards providing free education, said party secretary general Gwede Mantashe on Tuesday.

He said there were around 150 000 black students at universities across the country in 1994. Today there were just over 800 000, thanks to government increasing funding for higher education.

“Now that is a success story,” he said at the RMB Morgan Stanley Big Five Investor Conference in Cape Town.

“Today when fees must fall nobody remembers the promise that was made that 87% of students in South Africa are in no-fee schools. That is free education,” he said.”

Mantashe also pointed out that students at technical and vocational education and training students (TVET) colleges received a grant and not a loan if they qualified for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

“That is the promise we have made but when there is these protests people choose to forget we are making progress towards this goal.”

Calls for regime change

He said the ruling party was not driven by pressure but by a desire to ensure that every child was developed to their full capacity, no matter their economic status.

A bulging black middle class were beneficiaries of the ANC changing and correcting policies.

“That is why in 2007, in the conference of the ANC, we committed to up the game and work towards free education for the poor up to undergrad level.”

Mantashe said there were growing calls for regime change in the students’ protests but that some had accused the party of paranoia for pointing these out.

“Today a student leader in UKZN makes a stand and says ‘our protest for a good cause has been taken over by outsiders’. He says, ‘Many of the people who lead now are not in the university’.”

He reiterated to the gathered investors comments he made last week that if he were the higher education minister he would close universities where violent protests were taking place for at least six months.

“If you destroy university education infrastructure you are not working for free education,” he said.

“You are destroying the cause.”

[Source: News24]
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