ANC wants free tertiary education for poor students in 2018

Johannesburg – The African National Congress wants government to provide free tertiary education to poor students in the 2018 academic year, the party’s secretary general Gwede Mantashe said yesterday.

African National Congress secretary-general Gwede Mantashe
African National Congress secretary-general Gwede Mantashe

“Fully subsidised grants should be provided to academically qualifying poor students. Poor students are defined as coming from families who earn a gross family income of R150 000 and below per annum,” Mantashe said.

The proposal emerged from the ANC national executive committee lekgotla over the weekend, ahead of the Cabinet lekgotla that starts today.

The ANC said students whose families earned between R150 000 and R600 00 per annum should be subsidised through a combination of grants and loans.

“Students will be required to maintain adequate academic performance, and failure to do so would lead to disqualification,” Mantashe said.

The ANC government is under pressure from within the party, and from students, to provide free education.

The ANC Youth League called for free education to be implemented by 2018 at the party’s national policy conference.

There have also been nationwide Fees Must Fall protests.

The ANC’s recommendation comes ahead of findings by a commission established to investigate the feasibility of free higher education.

The commission has until August 30 to release its findings.

Meanwhile, academic activity at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Bellville campus resumed yesterday after classes were suspended a week ago due to campus protests.

This came after students and insourced workers demonstrated last week against the lack of contracts for insourced staff and over criminal proceedings against student activists involved in last year’s Fees Must Fall protests.

CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley said discussions were held and the matter involving the workers’ issues had been resolved.

“Today the signing of pre-contracts went ahead without incident,”she confirmed.

“With regard to student discipline matters related to previous fees protests, Council has reiterated that the criminal cases are not an internal CPUT process. An amnesty which mimics the TRC process will be explored by the university to conclude any internal outstanding student discipline issues.”

Staff returned to work on Friday July 28, with classes resuming yesterday.

“Furthermore, Council also committed to monitoring the insourcing process more regularly and has resolved to issue insourced workers with contracts by the end of August,” Kansley said.

The university, in a communique to students last Monday, suspended all activities following campus unrest.

Acting Vice Chancellor Chris Nhlapo at the time said, following ‘mammoth all-day meetings’ with the parties, he had consulted with the chair of Council and decided to suspend operations ‘in the interests of the safety of staff and students’ until Wednesday July 26.

Following an emergency meeting with insourced workers and students on Wednesday, it was resolved that classes to commence yesterday. –

St John’s College headmaster Paul Edey has apologised to Wits professor Sarah Nuttall for ‘completely and inappropriately invoking her name’ in an interview with radio station 702 about the racist actions of a teacher.

“I apologise to Professor Nuttall and on her behalf to all of you for this complete mischaracterisation of her role in attempting to build an anti-racism agenda at St John’s College” he said in a letter.

He said Nuttall, the highly respected director of the Wits Institute For Social And Economic Research (Wiser), had nothing to do with the case surrounding Keith Arlow, the St John’s College geography teacher who was found guilty of misconduct after making racist comments to South African black, Indian and Greek students, as well as foreign students.

Edey spoke to 702 presenter Bongani Bingwa about the reasons why Arlow was not fired despite being found guilty of misconduct.

He said the school had been engaging with Nuttall to begin conversations around transformation and diversifying the school. The Chronicle