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ANC calls for free tertiary education for poor students in 2018

Aug 1, 2017
ANC calls for free tertiary education for poor students in 2018

Following two years of often violent #feesmustfall protests on university campuses nationwide - in 2015 and 2016, the African National Congress (ANC) on Monday called on government to provide free tertiary education to poor students starting in the 2018 academic year.

"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," said ANC Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe.

The proposal emerged from the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) Lekgotla, which commenced on Friday until Sunday. The NEC Lekgotla is called twice per annum to assess progress in the implementation of policies and programmes of the ANC in the government it leads and to inform the planning and budgeting cycles of government.

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.

He said that being cognizant that the Fees Commission has until 31 August 2017 to submit its report on the feasibility of fee free higher education and training, the NEC Lekgotla resolved to introduce these measures to be integrated into the final work of the Commission.

Government is under pressure to find solutions to calls for free education from young people - including from the ANC Youth League, and avoid more #feesmustfall protests that crippled higher education in the last part of the 2016 academic year. 

Meanwhile, the Lekgotla called on the prioritisation of the Moloto Road and Rail Corridor and the N2 Wild Coast Road in the Eastern Cape.

"It was further resolved on the need for a cogent strategy on the public transport system and the necessity of the review of the taxi industry with the intention to stabilize this important sector," Mantashe said.

On water, he added that the Lekgotla noted that the construction of the Umzimvumbu Dam is critical for economic development in the Eastern Cape and called for government to speedily implement and conclude the project.