Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, admitted that students at tertiary level deserved tuition-free education, adding that there was nothing wrong with their demand for it.
However, it does not mean that this wish will become a reality for the thousands who are denied a tertiary education because they do not have the financial means. Ramaphosa was responding to what has been a mass movement to make tertiary education free.
President Jacob Zuma has dithered on the matter for months, creating somewhat of a predicament, with the new university semester set to start early next year. It has also created an opportunity for somebody like Ramaphosa to adopt a firm position on it, and maybe win some fans over.
“There is nothing wrong with students demanding free education and, in fact, it is something that our children deserve,” Ramaphosa told supporters at Emalahleni this week.
There is an issue with practicality though, and that is something that Ramaphosa will be forced to acknowledge. Fortunately for him, it is President Zuma who will have to make a pronouncement on the Fees Commission report and not him.
“The President, the government will come out with an announcement to say how we are going to face this challenge. We must wait for the report… what we want is for our young people to be skilled,” added Ramaphosa, whose entire campaign to become President of the African National Congress has been based on upskilling young South Africans.
“Students want free education because their parents are struggling. The fees of universities and technikons are too high,” added Ramaphosa.