SHARE
FeesMustFall protesters from the 2015 protest, now renewed.

In the wake of a University fee hike, it seems that students from around South Africa are going insane. Those socialistically-inclined are immediately throwing their support behind the movement dubbed #FeesMustFall, despite the movement showing itself as an immature, overly-entitled and fundamentally ignorant cause.

The protests started in earnest after the announcing of increased university fees. At UCT, this was combined with an already present movement run by the UCT Left and RhodesMustFall to end outsourcing and raise the minimum wage of workers to R10 000.

It has since resulted in a nationwide protest as students blockaded entrances onto campus on Monday (19 October) and proceeded to picket. Intimidation of bystanders, staff and critics commenced.

I’ve dealt with the reason why I oppose this protest on multiple forums, in fact leading a small countermovement calling for the Right To Learn. The Libertarian perspective on this issue is valuable but neglected as Communists and professional protesters call for decolonisation and an end to the already ended Apartheid, and Social Democrats call for fully subsidised tertiary education.

From the UCT perspective, here are the demands:

  • End Outsourcing of UCT staff
  • Raise minimum wage of staff to R10 000
  • Maintain current fees (or drop them to zero)
  • Accomplish all of this without any losses of jobs or financial aid.

This article will be refuting the demands of the protesters and then criticising their methods:

End Outsourcing

The typically Socialist idea here is that employers are always bad and workers are always exploited. In the logic of the RMF and UCT Left, outsourcing allows external employers to exploit their workers,prohibiting UCT from holding them accountable. This is fundamentally untrue, as it ignores the fact that outsourced companies are still beholden to South Africa’s pretty stringent labour regulations.

An outsourced worker has the same privileges as any worker. The virtue of them working at a company other than their employer doesn’t change that. If an outsourced worker is peeved, then they can seek help from the unions or the labour courts. The UCT Left have claimed that food workers on campus have been threatened by their employer but the ability to fire a worker in South Africa is so regulated that either the employers are holding the workers’ families hostage or the UCT Left are blowing hot air.

The fact of the matter is that outsourcing is effectively hiring an employee as normal, just cheaper as the institution does not have to invest in the necessary infrastructure, training and expertise of a specialised organisation.

UCT is a university. It isn’t a security company. It isn’t a cleaning company. It isn’t a restaurant. These outsourced companies are and thus, outsourcing allows UCT to achieve the highest quality for the lowest price.

Claims of this allowing exploitation of workers shows a complete ignorance of how outsourcing works and is baloney.

R10 000 Wage

Despite what fantastical Communists may want to believe, money is here to stay. With that in mind, we need to take into account budgets and reasonable remuneration. There may be a case that workers at UCT are not being paid enough, but R10 000 is just too much. An employee is paid according to the value contributed. Cleaning staff and security, while fulfilling a vital role, do not generate the necessary value to justify a R10 000 wage.

Even if they did, UCT would not be able to afford it. For labour intensive jobs such as cleaning, numbers are superior to skill and, in this regard, a skilled R10 000 paid cleaner is not superior to a group of lower paid individuals.

What a wage hike would mean is job losses, something that the movement expressly opposes. This highlights the fundamentally contradictory aspect of their demands. You cannot simultaneously drop funding, raise costs and expect to retain all workers. There’s something called budget constraints.

If they wish to pursue this demand, they will have to drop the others, or be willing to lose the majority of workers to retain a few. Of course, this may not be a problem for them – as Socialists seem to only care about the workers, and not those needing work.

No Fee Increase

As someone who has to pay university fees, this is something I could hypothetically get behind – but that position ignores the justification of UCT. It is not profitable running a university. Academia doesn’t garner much money and the state, in its incompetence, fails to direct most of its massive education budget to tertiary education.

The fee hikes at all universities are needed to keep up with inflation, growing costs and a lack of government funding. Personally, I’m against government funding, but I’m pointing this out in order to justify UCT’s fee increases.

The justification for the protest is that fee hikes will keep out poor students. This is not the case. The fees are already sizeable and paid for by middle class and rich students, who subsidise students on financial aid or bursaries. The poor student will not be affected by this. In fact, it may benefit them as larger fees means more money going into financial aid.

Logic doesn’t seem to have any place in these movements, however. In fact, when arguing online with a protest sympathiser, I was told to use less logic and reason and use more emotion. The reason why that is a ludicrous statement should not have to be substantiated.

The fact of the matter is that as sad as it may be, universities can’t afford not to have these fee hikes.

Their methods

Now that their demands have been shown to be ludicrous, it is important to move onto their methods and how this delegitimises them further.

Missed the target

Universities didn’t promise free education. The ANC and the Freedom Charter did. They’re the ones who are not fulfilling that promise. If the demands of the protesters are for free education, then march on Nkandla or some other seat of corruption and incompetence.

It is pretty obvious how ideologically driven these protests are, however, and socialist protesters don’t like biting socialist government hands.

Coercive

The campus on Monday was pretty much evacuated due to the dangers posed by protesters. I was there and can say that I was genuinely scared running down from Upper Campus to Rondebosch main road. Protesters were wielding sticks, bricks ripped up from the ground and any manner of melee weapon they could find. They moved rocks in front of parked cars in order to stop their owners from leaving. It was “you’re either with us, or against us” in practice.

Even if the protests were confined to merely blocking the entrances to campus, this is a severe violation of other students’ rights to enter campus and use the facilities. Merely preaching that this is justice for poor students is not enough to justify this.

Blocking people trying to leave is unacceptable as well, an action that protesters did while shouting “Don’t fuck with our revolution!”

Hostages were reportedly taken as protesters invaded and proceeded to squat in Bremner building. The protesters then had the audacity to condemn the use of law enforcement to prevent further crimes.

I’m typically not one to commend law enforcement, but from footage and anecdotes, the police handled the situation well. Despite claims, there was no police brutality. Prisoners were detained, not arrested, and were even allowed to keep their cell phones as one of the detained protesters pointed out in a Facebook message.

The reason protesters started crying and getting angry is the same reason a toddler gets upset when not given a toy. They lit the fires and are now upset that they got burnt.

Racism

To their credit, a few protesters are trying to keep race out of this issue, yet they are failing overwhelmingly as a multitude of protesters on the ground and on social media constantly blame whites for all problems ever. At Rhodes University, a protest leader was recorded stating that they must not tell the whites about the protest. Whites at UCT were told to form a human shield to defend the rest of the protesters and a myriad of commentators repeatedly accuse whites of being racist and privileged regardless of any other context.

This dehumanising racism shows the vast majority of the movement for what they are – brutal racists with no regard for a united and deracialised South Africa.

Conclusion

This protest isn’t about a cause. It isn’t about helping the poor, ending marginalisation, checking privilege or lowering fees. These protesters just like to protest. They find it fun. They like causing trouble, like destroying property and primarily, like acting like spoilt children.

 

Please sign the petition to show the protesters that we’re sick of them: https://www.change.org/p/university-of-cape-town-end-protests-at-university-of-cape-town-uct

  • joe

    this reminds me of the US fast food workers’ drive for $15 per hour, double the minimum wage in some cases, even thought they do an entry level no-experience job with almost zero advancement prospects, with workers interested in neither achievement nor advancement through hard work, but instead want to be compensated for their lack of motivation at a rate similar to what highly skilled ambulance staff gets. The problem is that for many of these workers, just like the so-called ‘students’ in South Africa, where they are currently at is the apex of their careers. There is no more; they are incapable of advancement, not through social situations, but through their own incompetence, inabilities, and sheer laziness and entitlement attitude born out of their self-diagnosed eternal victim-hood. That is why they are trying to ‘milk it’, so to speak, because that is all they will ever be, and achieve. The anc loves this, because the ‘student’ only learn enough to know they don’t want to do manual labor like driving a shovel, yet don’t know/learn enough to advance their own miserable lives in society the way westeners and asians do. It is an endless cycle of repetition: too lazy to work, too dumb to progress.

    • Colin

      Hi Joe,
      You use the USA example, but not Australia. Who do you think does the cleaning and shovel holding in Australia? Here a brickies labourer is actually a sought after job because people are paid for their hard work. My neighbour could be a doctor or a brick layer, without any social division. There are no guys I can pick up at the ‘robots’, so if I want to build a wall, I either do it myself and find out how much hard work and skill it requires or I compensate someone for their work. Same with cleaning.
      It is therefore a supply/demand issue which relates back to the lack of opportunities for graduates (both in free education and jobs) that in turn filters down to lack of education by the next generation. Therefore it seems where there is an abundance of latinos, blacks and other disadvantaged it is very easy to exploit them at below living standard wages. I travel to SA a lot, an R10K is absolutely nothing, and perpetuating people at this level will lead to long term issues that there is no coming back from. It seems you privileged guys have not changed…you want the luxury of living in a society that waits on you hand and foot, then you expect those same people to uplift themselves by the stick without a carrot.
      The more things change, the more they stay the same

  • Clifford Smith

    Higher education institutions currently receive only 12 percent of the government’s overall education budget, with the Department of Higher Education’s task team on university funding recently confirming that if they were to be funded at the world average, they would be receiving about R37bn instead of the R22bn they received in the last financial year.

    Do you not believe that the R15bn effectively withheld by government would have defused this entire situation if it had been deployed to the universities?

    • Nicholas Woode-Smith

      Yeah, but I’d personally much rather see it being used to pay off the national debt. We need to live within our means before we can start growing.

  • Jocelyn P

    We cannot grow without production which requires employment which requires skilled labor which we currently lack due to our sad excuse of an education system (matric passrates, school attendance rates, our current minister of education’s seemingly disregard of both).

    National debt and household debt do not follow exactly the same principles, Nicholas. A country that has a growing economy does not need to ‘live within its means’, growth is often stimulated through investment which sometimes increases debt if it is government funded. There is however a fine balance to using government investment to stimulate growth since it can crowd out private investment while still not having high enough returns on investment which would just lead to more debt rather than growth.

    Economic growth is not fostered by paying off debt (see USA’s past high growth rate while maintaining its massive debt), it is fostered through increasing factors of production among other things. Debt becomes less of a problem when the economy is large enough and despite South Africa’s natural resources, its skilled labor force is one of the areas it seriously needs to improve since the symptoms of an unskilled labor force are numerous (that unemployment rate…). ‘Human capital’ is only as valuable as its skills which means a certain level of education.

    Even though education increases overall efficiency and the standard of living of a country, governments are unlikely to invest in it due to the time it takes to give results. It is much easier to promise immediate things such as increases in minimum wage to win over voters although this does little to alleviate poverty in the long run due to its effect on economic efficiency. As much as I am an advocate for peaceful negotiations and protests, history shows that the state reacts faster to more violent means. Where education is free, it was rarely given by the government without prior protests and often riots, officials would almost always claim that it was beyond the budget (education isn’t the priority, re-election and welfare maximizing is). Another problem is that where free education was achieved the public institutions were often subpar to the previous private ones. What has worked well in countries that have made education free is leaving education institutions private but having the government heavily subsidize them. An increasing of R15bn to alleviate tertiary education fees would definitely be a step in the right direction.

    Financial aid benefits outliers (the minority who fit the profile) and is capped, this leaves a vast number of impoverished students with inadequate aid and access to education. The main problem with the aid model is that it assumes only the outliers should be the focus of aid but in a country where poverty is so widespread, the focus should cast a wider net for borderline cases of poverty. Even a fee increase to account for more bursaries would not address the real problem of access to education. The 10% fee increase itself has more to do with taking into account inflation so as not to lose ‘real value’ for services rendered (much how everyone increases prices to accommodate the deflating relative value of currency). The fee increase will trickle down to a negligible benefit and will be mostly absorbed by the university’s expenses due to all around inflation.

    It can seem ‘petulant’ for students to protest on something like a 10% increase in fees but when considering the bigger picture of South Africa’s comparatively low average salary and high poverty rate, it affects quite a lot of people and puts an even higher barrier to education which could remedy both. The protests are more about the lack of inclusivity in education and focusing on the fee increase in itself belittles the problem as well as the message of the protest. Education is already underfunded and having increasingly more learners creates perpetual strain on the model the government is currently using. Even setting the fee increase to 0% would not be beneficial since it would cause the universities to shift the costs elsewhere. In my opinion, the only real solution to this ‘not an education crisis’ is for the government to start prioritizing education in a way that has a direct impact on the majority of the population. I don’t think it is being over-entitled to want an education since access to education by the constitution is in itself a right and it is something vitally important to the entire country despite the government’s approach to it.

    I think it is important to focus on the larger picture when discussing topics as wide-reaching as this otherwise it’s likely that the views expressed come across as rather subjective. I agree that there are probably some students who attend just to have fun based on the destruction that has been caused. However, after listening to the interview with the student leaders it is obvious that the vast majority of attendees are more focused on economic emancipation and the growth of South Africa than they are on ‘causing trouble, like destroying property and primarily, like acting like spoilt children.’ I also agree that is indeed ludicrous to hold the intermediaries of education responsible for the barriers upheld by a failing government. The leaders of the protests admitted that universities were used more as a way to bolster the movement rather than being the actual place their demands were directed at which is why there will be a ‘march on Nkandla or some other seat of corruption and incompetence.’…namely the Union Buildings, today.

    Although I share your views on outsourcing, racism and on the wage increase, the overall idea of this seems to focus a bit too much on the subjective details and knee-jerk reactions rather than the big picture. Free education is not a ludicrous concept, especially not from a worldly perspective. Education’s reach is far more than a socialist, communist or capitalist issue. It is a vital part of any healthy economy and the catalyst of growth on a micro and macro scale, most families can map the increase of their wealth to the education and hard work of a few generations.

    The absence of education can effectively prolong poverty for many generations despite consistent labor. Even in countries were manual labor is in demand, in a country like this where it is in overabundance and the unemployment rate is so high, education is practically the only way out which is why it is so effective in countries lacking a substantial skilled labor workforce. South Africa’s growth is still severely hindered by its lack of focus on education despite the increase it’s spending on it probably due to mismanagement of funds among other things.
    Having bottlenecks like loadshedding ,an absolutely incompetent and corrupt government doesn’t help either…but that’s an issue for another time.
    (Apologies for the lengthy reply)

    • Nicholas Woode-Smith

      Thank you for your in-depth response. I’ll be responding to each point under a header for ease of reading:

      National Debt

      While growth can be achieved through debt, proposed in the Keynesian model, is is unsustainable. Keynes in fact proposed debt-driven growth only as a means to escape depression. The criticism of the theory is that popular politics doesn’t allow that. Once you start spending, the populace will become angered if you stop. This is hos many nations entered into the debt crises of the latter half of the 20th century.

      In South Africa, a minority of the populace pay tax. Thus, a combination of arbitrary levies, taxes raises and debt are needed to fund government spending. These taxes, increased due to the additional cost of paying off debt, discourage growth and hold back social upliftment in tax paying families. This money, instead of being funneled into incompetent government facilities and paying off unnecessary debt, might have been put into entrepreneurial pursuits.

      Paying off debt isn’t about economic growth. It’s about freeing a country from extra costs and freeing future generations from spending they had no part in.

      Skilled Labour Force

      There’s a vast difference between skill from High School or a college and skill from a university. While education does contribute positively to an economy through skilled labour, as a developing economy most sectors are still reliant on low-end educated individuals, not Arts majors, scientists and business students. In fact, we have many of these people already, many of which have decided to leave the country due to a lack of opportunities. South Africa’s problems are based on economic over-regulation holding back opportunities. If we had a real demand for professionals and academics (besides medical doctors and nurses, we need those), then maybe we could start thinking truly about heavily subsidizing their education. So far, the Humanities and Commerce are for the upliftment of the individual, who will probably leave the country due to lack of opportunity here.

      Education Focus

      While I agree that the government should be formulating education improving policies, a financial focus isn’t helping.

      http://www.southafrica.info/business/economy/policies/budget2014c.htm#.VioIxrcrKUk – An old link but the budget is still similar. Education receives a vast portion of the budget already. Yet we’re still failing to produce good results. Education in South Africa is a qualitative problem, not quantitative. I’m all for the government developing better policies, but throwing extra money at it won’t help, as we have seen.

      In conclusion

      Anyone will be hard pressed to disagree with you that education is important, but it isn’t the primary concern in South Africa. The primary concern is creating a policy environment in which thrift and entrepreneurship can flourish in order to provide jobs for those already with qualifications. If the primary motivation for university is to get a job (which I actually disagree with) then actually allow jobs to be created. South Africa is facing an economic crisis, not an education one.

      To add to the financial argument against free education in SA, this is an insightful article: http://businesstech.co.za/news/general/101948/south-africa-isnt-ready-for-free-education/

      • Jocelyn P

        National Debt

        Growth stimulated by debt being unsustainable depends more on what percentage the debt is in comparison to the GDP which is why I said that it is used with success in larger economies to stimulate growth. Multiple models should be studied when looking at what effect different stimuli has on the economy (I suggest looking up different views on economic growth). Debt use to escape depression has actually had negative effects in the past during periods of recession due to the debt in relation to the GDP. When an economy is large enough, debt is not as much of a problem. Debt itself is not an indicator of poor economic growth and I stand by what I said that it has been used successfully in the past and currently to stimulate growth.
        The link between debt and growth:
        http://www.voxeu.org/article/high-public-debt-harmful-economic-growth-new-evidence
        https://www.ecb.europa.eu/pub/pdf/scpwps/ecbwp1237.pdf

        South Africa has a terrible tax base because of its high unemployment rate and inequality, a small portion paying for the vast majority. Entrepreneurship requires skills and education, using funds to invest in education would indirectly foster entrepreneurship and business growth in the long term. I wholeheartedly agree that using taxes to sustain inefficient government facilities is wasteful. It is once more the government focusing on the symptoms of the greater issue. Having public companies might provide for jobs but in the long run they turn into tax money sinks whereas although education would take up a sizable portion tax revenue if was fully subsidized, it would turn into a larger tax base in the future. As it stands, entrepreneurship would not be encouraged through direct investment by the government since it would encourage the treatment of the symptoms of our current education system and foster the continued dependence of the majority on a minority of educated and working individuals. It would also crowd out private investment and create more sickly companies like SAA.

        I disagree that paying off debt will free a country especially when the country is shackled by its poor growth, unemployment, high crime rate, corrupt government…well you get the picture. Debt is a means to an end when it comes to growth and despite you saying ‘Paying off debt isn’t about economic growth. ‘ it very much is. The money used to pay off debt can be used to foster a GDP high enough to make the debt in relation to the GDP negligible. The extra costs on the future generation then decrease in real value. Nominal debt values in the long term are a small price to pay for a prosperous and healthy economy which would mean future generations having a higher standard of living. Future generations will have to pay for what the previous generation did anyway, it is the nature of our current model of politics. What decisions are made today will impact the future ones, be it through debt or inaction. At the end of the day it is about weighing benefits rather than the actual amount of debt, can the government justify and use the debt to successfully improve the country? I urge you to consider whether it is worthwhile in USA considering their standard of living in relation to the amount of debt they have while keeping in mind the size of their economy (GDP).

        Skilled Labor Force

        The difference is vast and the focus should be on providing free quality primary and secondary education first and making tertiary more inclusive until it can be made free as well. If by size of the sectors you mean revenue then your statements are incorrect. If by size you mean employment then I think size should not be the indicator of what skilled labor South Africa needs, the amount of revenue per sector should be. It is absurd to look at the size of a sector if agricultural sectors are ‘large’ but make a fraction of the financial sector. By focusing on revenue, we focus on what would best boost South Africa’s GDP and economic growth which allows for future investment to foster more growth.

        Our ‘developing economy’ already shows that revenue from high end skilled individuals is where South Africa needs a boost which is what I stated. Sorry for repeating myself but skilled labor and education are the major reasons of growth worldwide, not only in ‘developing economies’ because skilled labor is what generates the most revenue.
        Based on the sector’s contribution to the economy, business students and therefore skilled labor is what South Africa should focus on. (http://wwwrs.resbank.co.za/webindicators/EconFinDataForSA.aspx)

        South Africa’s problems are based on a number of factors including many which are symptoms of a poor education system. Over-regulation is also part of the problem but not as much as you seem to think, one cannot have healthy entrepreneurship and businesses when there is a lack of skilled labor. The demand is there for professionals and academics (mostly in I.T and business sectors) but the supply is not. South African businesses will often hire international contractors for higher skilled labor while lower skilled labor is given to South Africans mostly because of our regulations to encourage it (affirmative action…). I think graduates leaving because of the opportunities elsewhere have more to do with higher pay and standard of living elsewhere rather than lack of opportunity (even though there is a high demand for doctors, they leave for better opportunities since they are skilled enough to be mobile, http://www.cmaj.ca/content/164/3/387.full.pdf ).

        Lack of opportunities is more detrimental to unskilled labor because they do not have the choice to mobilize within the country or beyond its borders due to low demand. By saying ‘If we had a real demand for professionals and academics’, you seem to state that demand should come before education is invested in which does not make sense since demand for skilled labor increases based on how educated your population is (in terms of allowing for more entrepreneurship), unless the country heavily encourages foreign companies which would not work either due to the lacking supply and our other problems with our ‘human capital’ (strikes constantly), loadshedding and mounting political unrest.
        ‘ Humanities and Commerce are for the upliftment of the individual, who will probably leave the country due to lack of opportunity here.’, I agree on a micro scale but overall the ‘upliftment of the individual’ through education would be extremely beneficial on a macro scale as well in supplying the skilled labor South Africa needs for development. As for the brain drain we are currently experiencing, there are conflicting numbers on the matter (http://www.bdlive.co.za/national/labour/2014/01/14/expertise-flows-back-into-sa-as-brain-drain-is-reversed).
        With regards to Art graduates, I don’t really have an opinion on the matter since Art graduates don’t seem to have a high demand anywhere.

        Education Focus

        It is both a quantitative and qualitative problem in my opinion. The proportion of money spent in relation to the size of the problem shows that the government is not prioritizing education. Too much focus is had on pumping out more teachers instead of good quality teachers however the amount of barriers to education make it a quantitative problem as well.

        The government needs to approach education holistically. Instead of handing out direct grants, it should be done through schools, keeping schools as private institutions with public funding would allow for competition and still maintain quality. Placing an incentive for the majority to attend school while providing aid has been what has worked in countries that have extreme inequality. Objectively education is valuable but due to impoverishment, higher importance is placed on income generation which is why as children reach working age they tend to drop out:
        “Schooling is compulsory only until the age of 15 or the end of grade 9, and the attendance rate decreases more steeply from age 16 onwards, with 95% of 16-year-olds, 90% of 17-year-olds, and 80% of 18-year-olds reported to be attending school”
        “Amongst children of school-going age who are not attending school the main set of reasons for non-attendance relate to financial constraints. These include the cost of schooling (18%), or the opportunity costs of education, where children have family commitments such as child minding (6%) or are needed to work in a family business or elsewhere to support household income (4%). The second most common set of reasons is related to perceived learner or education system failures, such as a perception that “education is useless” (14%), feeling unable to perform at school (7%), or exam failure (4%).Other reasons for drop-out are illness (7%) and disability (9%). Pregnancy accounts for around 9% of drop-out amongst teenage girls not attending school (or 5% of all non-attendance).”
        (http://www.childrencount.ci.org.za/indicator.php?id=6&indicator=15).

        ‘While I agree that the government should be formulating education improving policies, a financial focus isn’t helping.’, I am aware how much they spend on education which is why I said ‘South Africa’s growth is still severely hindered by its lack of focus on education despite the increase it’s spending on it probably due to mismanagement of funds among other things.’. Using education to encourage growth is not an easy feat since it depends heavily on how effective the education is (in terms of quality, skills learned and how many people have access to).

        It doesn’t help that the government has contradictory policies when it comes to emancipation by encouraging minimum wage and grant dependency instead of encouraging education and skilled labor.
        I’m sure you have heard the saying ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’

        I partially disagree with ‘ education is important, but it isn’t the primary concern in South Africa. The primary concern is creating a policy environment in which thrift and entrepreneurship can flourish in order to provide jobs for those already with qualifications.’, removing stifling policies will encourage South African entrepreneurship but would be more beneficial in a population that has an abundance of skilled labor. Focus should be on access to quality basic and higher education to encourage long term growth which is still a challenge when it comes to implementation (http://educationnext.org/education-and-economic-growth/).

        Policy is definitely important but where South Africa is currently at, complete policy reform will not have a substantial impact unless the skilled labor exists for entrepreneurship and resulting employment and growth. By reducing market regulation, competition also increases and due to being at a disadvantage when it comes to having an educated population, the opportunities for high skilled work will go to contractors from overseas rather than the masses of unskilled workers. It is again a question of a small group of skilled workers paying taxes for the majority to live vs encouraging emancipation for the majority to sustain themselves and thrive. Focusing on policy and providing jobs for those already having qualifications just encourages our current problem which is the vast majority relying on a minority for social grants and subsidies.

        The primary concern should be creating a skilled labor force which will cause entrepreneurship to flourish through innovation and increase the standard of living through long term growth and revenue. Education’s many positive externalities and long term benefits are reason enough for the government to prioritize it (http://en.unesco.org/post2015/sites/post2015/files/UNESCO%20Position%20Paper%20ED%202015.pdf ).

        ‘South Africa is facing an economic crisis, not an education one.’, I partially disagree…South Africa is facing both through mismanagement of funds, loadshedding, inter-generational poverty, restrictive laws, inequality and our lack of skilled labor forms part of it (http://www.oecd.org/southafrica/economic-survey-south-africa.htm). We definitely need policy reform but I argue that education should be a higher priority for long term growth.

        In conclusion

        Education is not the be all and end all but it should definitely be focused on despite challenges in implementing accessible, high quality education. I disagree with progress that is fueled by a small group of educated workers carrying the rest of the country, it is simply not sustainable and does not encourage the standard of living to rise.

        http://businesstech.co.za/news/general/101948/south-africa-isnt-ready-for-free-education/
        “Student demographics changed, too, with more black South Africans enrolling. Many come from poorer families and simply cannot afford the fees charged by universities.

        There are many problems for the government, including the state of the world economy, which ensures that there is not enough money. Yet it needs tertiary graduates for developing the country and filling the many gaps in delivery.

        So, pressure on universities becomes pressure on students, and raising fees becomes an easy target. ”
        These points are my main crux with the government saying it cannot afford to do it. As I have said previously, ‘Where education is free, it was rarely given by the government without prior protests and often riots, officials would almost always claim that it was beyond the budget (education isn’t the priority, re-election and welfare maximizing is).’

        It is not about lacking funds, it is about what the government prioritizes and as things stand, they don’t get as many short term returns from education as they do from elsewhere. Education is a problem that needs to be tackled holistically to be implemented in a way that will give tangible results, as you have said ‘throwing money at it’ is not exactly the way to go about it. Free education is meaningless without maintaining quality but that does not mean it should not be prioritized, it is especially of importance here. (http://www.skillssummit.co.za/articles/skills-development-vital-to-sa-s-economic-growth).

        In light of the agreement to 0% increase in fees, I find myself disappointed that the president did not address accessibility through free quality education in a comprehensive manner. The costs of this no fee increment will be borne elsewhere…What are your thoughts on the president’s speech?