Categories
Post

TOUGH CHALLENGE AHEAD FOR NEW HIGHER EDUCATION MINISTER NALEDI PANDOR

The Higher Education Department is facing one of its most sensitive times as government works to try and address the funding crisis in tertiary institutions.

As the higher education sector grapples with phasing in free education for the poor and so-called missing middle students, Naledi Pandor has been appointed to the ministry’s hot seat.

Pandor previously served as science and technology minister for nearly four years and replaces Hlengiwe Mkhize.

The Higher Education Department is facing one of its most sensitive times as government works to try and address the funding crisis in tertiary institutions.

Pandor is no stranger to the sector as she served as minister of education from 2004 to 2009 under former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe.

Pandor oversaw a complete overhaul of the basic education system under her tenure and proposed reforms to the country’s failed implementation of outcomes-based education. She has also served in other portfolios in government, including minister of home affairs.

She’s now been tasked with stabilising higher education after former president Jacob Zuma’s surprise announcement late last year that government would subsidise studies for poor and working-class students.

During the Budget speech last week, former finance minister Malusi Gigaba announced government had allocated R57 billion in the medium term to fund free fees for first-year tertiary students.

It’s the largest reallocation of resources towards government’s spending priorities.

Making tertiary education fees for lower-income students free means higher education is now government’s fastest-growing spending category with an annual average growth of 13.7%.

The expense will partly be funded by revenue raised from an increase in value-added tax.

All first-year students with a family income of below R350,000 per year will be funded for the full cost of study at universities and TVET colleges.

Gigaba said this would be rolled out in subsequent years until all years of study are covered.

“This is an important step forward in breaking the cycle of poverty and confronting youth unemployment, as labour statistics show that unemployment is lowest for tertiary graduates.”

Returning students who received loans from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme will as from this year, have those loans converted into a bursary.

Zuma announced free higher education last year, in response to the Heher Commission of Inquiry..

Leave a Reply