Opposition parties: Fee-free education fails to solve poor students’ problems

Opposition parties say free education for first-year students who come from families who earn less than R350,000 a year has failed many.

Naledi Pandor at the ANC national conference. Picture: @MYANC/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - Opposition parties say fee-free education has not solved the myriad of problems faced by many poor students on campuses across the country.

They have slammed the African National Congress government for failing to ensure that students have appropriate accommodation and money for food, transport and books.

Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor has delivered the department's budget in Parliament on Thursday afternoon saying the R57 billion allocated for fee-free education marks a new dawn for post-school education and training.

Minister Pandor has conceded that there have been teething problems in implementing government's new fee-free scheme.

But opposition parties say free education for first-year students who come from families who earn less than R350,000 a year has failed many.

The Democratic Alliance's Belinda Bozzoli said: “Many have halfway through the year not received funding. Some have had to resort to begging for food, some have been thrown out of accommodation and are sleeping in corridors and libraries. Textbooks cannot be bought.”

The Economic Freedom Fighters' Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi says students facing criminal charges for their role in the Fees Must Fall movement must be released.

“What kind of democratic government arrests students?”

Opposition parties say more also needs to be done to ensure the safety of students and staff, particularly women.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)