S/Africa: Free education announcement claims false - Presidency

S/Africa: Free education announcement claims false - Presidency

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has no plans to announce a programme for free higher education until he reviews the report of a commission studying the feasibility of such a programme, his office said in a statement on Sunday.

The report recommended that undergraduate and postgraduate students studying at both public and private universities and colleges should be funded through a cost-sharing model of government guaranteed "Income-Contingency Loans" sourced from commercial banks.

The recommendation also included that government increase is spend on higher education to total at least one percent of GDP (gross domestic product) to bring it in line with countries with similar economies.

"Should the student fail to reach the required income threshold, government bears the secondary liability".

The Commission recommended that government adopt an affordable plan to develop more student accommodation and that Historically Disadvantaged Institutions be prioritised.

The free education plan was reportedly drawn up by Morris Masutha, the former boyfriend of Zuma's daughter, Thuthukile.

By 11.15am, the rand spiked to R14.51 to the US currency, a 16-month low after reports that Treasury official Michael Sachs, a deputy director general who headed up the budget office, quit last week after Zuma revealed his estimated R40-billion plan for free higher education.

The commission further recommended that application and registration fees be scrapped at all universities.

"Michael didn't necessarily oppose the idea of free education, but he wouldn't stand for the interference in the budget process", a source told the news wire.

"I will make a pronouncement on the Report once the Ministers have concluded their work".

Zuma said he had chose to release it prior to the conclusion of government's work in processing it so that the public could have an opportunity to study the report.

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