Government plans compulsory graduate community service

ONE year of compulsory community service is in store for graduates after they complete their tertiary studies.

All graduates – irrespective of whether their education has been privately funded or paid for by the state through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) – could soon be compelled to complete the service.

This is according to the ANC national executive committee (NEC) sub-committee on education and health, which revealed yesterday that it had been discussing the matter for several months. It said the proposal would definitely be implemented within the next five years.

Committee chairwoman Naledi Pandor – who is also Home Affairs Minister – said while final details were still being considered, the party was leaning towards implementing one year of compulsory community service.

But Pandor, as well as Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training Mduduzi Manana – who also sits on the ANC committee – sought to allay fears that graduates would ultimately be forced to postpone getting jobs to do menial work.

Pandor and Manana said graduates would actually spend a year gaining practical work experience relevant to what they studied. “This would not be inservice training,” Manana said on the sidelines of the briefing.

“The idea is for graduates to gain practical work experience in what they studied.”

He said a communications drive would be undertaken to undercut any negative reaction to the policy.

The ANC committee proposed that the community service could be started with students who had received bursaries or loans from NSFAS before being rolled out to all graduates.

Education specialist Graeme Bloch predicted students would not like the idea but urged them to be positive as “you have to use your degree to give back”. – Olebogeng Molatlhwa

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