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SA needs R50bn a year for free tertiary education

Apr 12 2015 21:15
Nkosinathi Sengwayo

Ermelo - It would cost a total of R50bn a year for tertiary institutions to provide free education to those who deserve it, but the current budget is only R9.9bn says deputy minister of higher education and training Mduduzi Manana.

Manana was addressing Mpumalanga's first conference of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) CEOs in Ermelo on Saturday.

"We need a budget of R50bn for a year. We need money, R9.9bn is a lot of money and that is the allocation for this year, but we are failing to get deserving students into education and into training," he said.

"I am sure that it is painful for all of us in the department, especially in head office, to turn away students when they are so eager to learn and to be educated," said Manana.

Manana also criticised Sector Education and Training Authorities for allowing their budgets to line the pockets of certain individuals instead of helping needy students.

"Since the establishment of the Setas, we cannot account for about R50bn that went into people's pockets. Where did this money go? When they say they have trained young people, it is clear that they did not do much or anything at all. They were lining their pockets with money intended to empower our young people," he said.

He urged the TVET colleges in Gert Sibande, Ehlanzeni, Nkangala and other stakeholders to fight corruption.

"As a country we have sound policies and systems, but corruption continues to show its ugly head and I think we must work together to fight corruption. The consequences are quite dire.

"If we can collect all the money that is in the pockets of certain individuals who know very well that they are not deserving of the money, I can tell you, we can take 50 000 more students into the colleges and even in the universities.

"We continue seeing people lining their pockets instead of addressing the needs of those they represent," said Manana.

Manana said 1.5 million students have been trained through government's National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

He said most had joined the ranks of middle class blacks in the public and private sectors.

"We have three director generals in the country who are beneficiaries of NSFAS including one in the treasury and many CEOs of entities," he said.

He admitted there was a backlog in issuing certificates to the graduates, however.

"We have to hurry on this issue because it is damaging...," he said.

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