No Student Excluded: Government Can and Must Provide Universal Access to Education Funding

ActionSA believes that when Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana, delivers his budget speech on Wednesday afternoon, he should prioritise the universal funding of higher above bailing out failing State-Owned-Enterprises (SOEs) or spending billions on VIP protection on South Africa’s political elite.

No student who qualifies academically for further education should be financially excluded while Government wastes billions on luxuries and non-essential expenditure.

While addressing hundreds of students at Camblish College in the Johannesburg inner city today, I shared that an ActionSA government would seek to implement universal access to higher education funding in South Africa to ensure that no academically qualifying student is excluded.

We believe that the universal funding of higher education is possible and affordable but requires the political will to do so. To this end, an ActionSA budget would stop bailing out SOEs which have cost South Africans R400 billion over the past ten years and slash the R3.76 billion budget for VIP protection.

ActionSA maintains that education is one of the best tools for people to empower themselves and their families and lift them out of poverty. It is furthermore imperative that quality education be prioritised to ensure that we have the skills necessary to grow our economy and create millions of jobs. South Africa is suffering from a growing skills shortage in key areas. Addressing this shortfall as part of a holistic approach to all phases of education, including expanding funding for higher education, is critical for economic prosperity.

Therefore, an ActionSA government would prioritise higher education funding above other expenditure items in the country’s national budget. Under ActionSA, funding higher education would be a top priority and not an afterthought as we have seen under the misgoverning party. NSFAS has failed students and is rife with maladministration and corruption.

During ActionSA’s inaugural policy conference in September last year, over 600 delegates voted that ActionSA refine its higher education funding model to specifically address financial exclusion, including of the missing middle. We are excited to present this innovative funding approach in the coming weeks.

My mandate to our policy teams and youth leadership is that the funding model must ensure universal higher education funding for academically qualifying students as a non-negotiable in an ActionSA government.

Our education policy, adopted at the inaugural policy conference, also seeks to expand the number of higher education opportunities available and increase the standard of higher education by reintroducing and expanding Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, and reintroducing police, teacher and nursing training colleges. Our education system must cater to the talents of young people and allow them to pursue the most appropriate path to reach their potential.

In addition to tuition fees, our Inclusive Economic Empowerment (IEE) policy will also see that student housing be subsidised or fully funded to give students the comfort that they can focus on their studies.

As a party which values quality education, ActionSA will continue to work with all stakeholders to achieve universal higher education funding to ensure that all South Africans have equal opportunity to educational opportunities.

We can create thousands of higher education opportunities, but for that to happen we need to take action to remove the misgoverning party from government by registering to vote and voting for ActionSA in the upcoming elections.