Alleged secret government report on free education must be released

Adv Anton Alberts

The FF Plus brought an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act today for the release of a report on the feasibility of free tertiary education, which according to media reports is in the possession of Dr. Blade Nzimande, the minister of Higher Education.

Adv. Anton Alberts, the FF Plus’ parliamentary spokesperson on Higher Education, says according to a report in the Mail & Guardian the minister had already in 2010 appointed a working group to look at the possibility of free tertiary education.

The report was apparently completed in 2012 and handed to Nzimande in December of that year. Some of the academics, who had assisted with the writing of the report, say that the report had made it clear that free tertiary education was feasible, according to the media report.

Adv. Alberts says the FF Plus wants the report for the following reasons:

  • The investigation into the fees of universities must be transparent and realistic. A possible report about the issue is being kept secret and deserves to be made public.
  • The FF Plus wants to know that should the report exist, the reason why minister Nzimande has held it back, while the ANC had already in 2007 promised free tertiary education. It is clear to the FF Plus that the ANC is making a habit of making false promises for the sake of gaining votes. Minister Nzimande must account for these false promises to the ANC.
  • Any perception that secrets are being kept could lead to student protests flaring up again and could escalate to higher and more dangerous levels.

Adv. Alberts says the FF Plus wants to emphasise that if free tertiary education becomes a reality, it should not be a convenient passport to the wasting of money and under performance.

“There has to be strict guidelines and criteria in place so that students thoroughly realise they will not be allowed to waste taxpayers’ money. There should, amongst others, be regular and thorough assessment together with a cut-off point where a student clearly under-performs.

“We want to make it clear that performance should be the only measurement,” Adv. Alberts said.


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