- Zuma said in a statement that he made the decision after having amended the definition of poor and working-class students. Students categorized as falling in this class will be supported through government grants instead of loans, Zuma said.
The South African government will introduce free higher education and training for poor and working-class undergraduate students at public universities, starting in 2018, President Jacob Zuma announced on Saturday.
Zuma said in a statement that he made the decision after having amended the definition of poor and working-class students. Students categorized as falling in this class will be supported through government grants instead of loans, Zuma said. The definition of poor and working class students will now refer to currently enrolled technical vocational education and training (TVET) college or university students from South African households with a combined annual income of up to 350,000 rand (about 26,700 U.S. dollars) by 2018 academic year, Zuma explained. Zuma also announced that there will be no tuition fee increment for students from households earning up to 600,000 rand a year during the 2018 academic year.
The government, he said, will increase subsidies to universities from 0.68 percent to 1 percent of the GDP in the next five years to address the overall underfunding of the sector. Zuma made the announcement as the ruling African National Congress (ANC) kicked off its 54th conference in Johannesburg, at which a successor to Zuma will be elected. At the TVET college sector, the ANC policy objective is to produce 30,000 artisans each year until 2030. In the university sector, the policy objective is to increase public university enrolment by 70 percent to 1.6 million students by 2030. The ANC-led government further aims to increase the number of university students studying towards maths and science degrees to 450,000 by 2030. He reaffirmed that education remains an apex priority of the government's pro-poor policies and a central pillar of its fight against the socio-economic legacy of apartheid and colonialism and its resultant triple challenge of race, gender and class-based poverty, inequality and unemployment. South Africa's major universities were hit by student protests in 2015 following tuition fee hikes. Protesting students also demanded free higher education, an overdue promise made by the ANC. Free education is a promise made by the ANC. In its congress in 2007, the party made a resolution, pledging to have free education in seven years. The