THE SA Communist party (SACP) has called on government to prioritise resources to expand the number of public colleges and universities and ensure that they are adequately funded and resourced.
The SACP’s central committee meeting has also welcomed the measures taken by the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology to reprioritise funds towards the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to ensure that no deserving student is excluded.
This comes as student protests are set to continue this week as students from 18 universities participate in the national shutdown – with more expected to join.
The students are demanding an end to financial exclusion and the scrapping of historic debt.
“We welcome the Cabinet’s commitment to undertake a comprehensive review of student funding, including the issue of student debt” said the SACP in a statement.
“Over the years, including during the term of office of previous administrations, the fiscal framework followed by the government amounted to defunding public colleges and universities by cutting allocations to these institutions. The budget presented to Parliament last month is no different. The medium-term expenditure framework allocation to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme suppresses its growth, by limiting it to a mere and inadequate 1.7% for the period ending with the financial year 2023/2024.”
The central committee of the SACP said a key challenge faced in public schools, colleges and universities alike was the problem of austerity.
“Important baseline programmes in the basic education sector were also cut in terms of funding support. It is therefore disingenuous for the elements within our movement who either presided over cuts to college and university allocations to come out claiming the opposite,” said the SACP in a statement.
“Also, within the Alliance, the ANC is the only formation that welcomed the austere budget presented to Parliament last month. It is hypocritical for any leader of the ANC to parade themselves in the public as a stalwart of free education at a stroke.”
The SACP’s central committee meeting has also warned against ‘elements’ within the broader student movement not to use genuine education struggles to pursue factional conduct and political agendas.
“The ANC has a responsibility to publicly support its own policies and policy positions, instead of allowing some from within its leadership ranks to engage in opportunistic and populist postures that run against the ANC’s policies.”