Almost a year to the day on which student protests made a visible and violent impact on the university scene, Comrade-Doctor-Minister Blade Nzimande seemed to have gotten a lesson in basic economics from South Africa’s uncle in the finance business, Pravin Gordhan, when he said that even in a “fee-free” country, the costs of education are borne by the taxpayers.
Then, just as he was sounding reasonable and realistic, the man said private universities pose a threat to state-funded ones because they lure students from wealthy families (whose “privilege” it is to pay fees that keep public varsities afloat while “fee-free” students toyi-toyi and burn down buildings) and poach lecturers.
The not-so-dear (unless one counts how much he costs the taxpayer) minister is dazed and confused, because the biggest threats to education come not from private institutions, but the ANC, which nearly wrecked South Africa’s state education system from top to bottom.
Out of the schizophrenic trinity fighting over the corpse of tertiary education, only university administrations seem to be trying to resolve the issues.
All that’s left is for somebody who’s still gainfully employed (I’m not) to buy Nzimande a sharpening stone for his intellect or the president to fire him, and for government leaders to somehow bring the rioting students under control before the 2016 academic year is wasted.
Then they must cancel most, if not all, of the government’s corruption and frivolous expenses (no more “Nkandla in the sky” with inter-continental range, I hope) in order to divert billions to pay for “free” education.
If they don’t, our country will see what an eruption of the impoverished really looks like, and what little this government will be able to do to quell it, because the army upon which so many of our frustrated citizens call is a catastrophically underfunded and disastrously led mess which Lesotho and Central African Republic amateurs beat soundly not that long ago.