Should Fees Really Fall

Posted by | May 1, 2019 | Free Education, tvet colleges, University life

By Luyanda Mazibuko

Should Fees Really Fall ? This is still a most talked about topic. After 4 years since the beginning of the whole #FeesMustFall campaign we still have student protests each year all for the same reasons and still producing the same results. But there are some who fall under the category of people who think it might not be the best idea.
People do not think about this very often but everything has consequences, just as Newton’s Third Law states, every action has a reaction. In this case the reaction would yield a whole lot of consequences which would not even be the governments to bare. They would become the burden of every tax paying person in the country.

Our country is already financially unstable so it baffles me to still see people who do not think about the other side of the situation. Everyone is just ready to riot without actually understanding why free tertiary education for everyone is not the best idea. It might be a basic human right but in our developing nation, we just cannot afford it at the moment and people need to come to terms with that.

In November 2017 our former president, Jacob Zuma, appointed the Heher Commission after 2 consecutive years of #FeesMustFall protests. This commission stated that the state does not have the funds required to provide free tertiary education for students. Now what is confusing about this is that in Mid-December 2017 the same Jacob Zuma stated that free education would be provided at the beginning of 2018 for new first-year students in TVET colleges and public universities. This would only be provided to students coming from households earning less than R350 000 per year. This announcement caused a large stir the following year as this promise was not seen through. This just resulted in more angry students and parents.

Should Fees Really Fall, can the country afford?
The truth of the matter is that even if students were to get funding, not all of them would make it to the second year should fees really fall. There are always setbacks, whether its students failing or changing courses, the government cannot abandon their responsibilities so ultimately more money would be needed.
We simply cannot afford this! The money will not appear out of thin air, it needs to come from somewhere and we know where that is. We already had a problem with the latest tax increase, now imagine how bad it would get if it increases again just to fund this free education. Our tax would increase but salaries would remain stagnant. Think about it, the same people advocating for free education would probably start fighting against tax increases either way. The only other way to get funds into the country would be if we take loans from other states – tax increase alone will not be enough to fill the gap – but we would not even be able to pay the loans off in time which in turn would just cause more chaos. This is South Africa, not Atlantis, we will not survive if we drown in our ocean of debt.

At the end of the day it is all about numbers so let me dive into the statistics. South African Government Spending had an increase from R640 210 million in Q2 of 2018 up to R643 704 in Q3 reaching an all-time high. Government Revenues were projected to be R160 596 million in December 2018 from R87 441 million in November 2018.
Government debt is at 67 998 USD million. We are spending more than we are making and can afford as a country and funding this free education would bring us to our knees, regardless of whether it is just funding everyone or just first-year students. It is a shock that we are still managing to survive right now. This whole free education fiasco will cause us to have dire economic backlashes that will put us back into a recession worse than the one we had just come out of last year December.

Honestly, free education is a dream right now and people keep buying into these empty promises. We need to reach the endgame before more chaos ensues over nothing. Numbers are everything, our government must make sure that its citizens understand this otherwise nothing will stop. Let us meet each other halfway instead of fighting an infinite war amongst ourselves. We cannot afford to cut down on any budget commitments or increase taxation even more. We need to think about this rationally because South Africa is not yet at a place where it can fund free education for its people.

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