EDUCATING its citizens is the best investment a country can make. According to a report by Higher Education South Africa (Hesa), the government would get up to R1.90 back in revenue and the economy could grow by up to R11 in real terms for every R1 spent additionally on higher education.
The role of higher education in developing countries is clearly considerable as regards economic growth, and is a great source of wealth and prosperity for its citizens.
Apart from economic and revenue growth, graduates contribute in various ways to the public good.
The DA believes that education is the cornerstone of the liberation struggle of all South Africans. Education, together with jobs, is a critical component of an opportunity society.
It is no coincidence that these represent our core offer to South Africans towards the general elections. Free education for poor qualifying students is an important part of that offer.
It speaks to our commitments of redress, growing the economy and realising an open opportunity society for all.
The ANC is continuously letting students down.
The DA is the only viable alternative for South African students.
A vote for the DA is an investment in the future of all students.
The ANC government has not budgeted enough for National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) loans. This year, many students could not start or continue their studies because the government could not get together R2.6-billion to fund the NSFAS budget shortfall.
It is clear that the ANC does not take this issue seriously enough. Its aligned student wing, Sasco, was also complicit in diverting attention from the real issue and placing the blame on institutions of higher learning. Its own bleats of free education were aptly exposed when abandoning the needs of students on the altar of political loyalty.
While many politicians have attempted to gain voting support through calls for free higher education, the DA is the only party with a workable offer. Our offer is grounded by our alternative budget and economic policies.
A DA government will put enough money aside for the NSFAS to make sure that no students are prevented from furthering their studies because they cannot afford the fees. The full cost of studies available as a loan to poor students through the NSFAS will be converted into a bursary if studies are successfully completed.
The DA will also provide state sureties for students who do not qualify for NSFAS bursaries, but are seeking student loans from commercial banks.
Free education alone will not act as a silver bullet. The NSFAS will need to be effectively administered at both national and institutional levels, the family income qualifying threshold will need to be reexamined to prevent needy students from being excluded, and a greater commitment to increased academic support must be made by both government and institutions of higher learning.
A national DA government will prioritise education and training to equip young people to compete in a growing economy. The DA will implement an opportunity voucher programme that will provide funding to young adults who would like to start their own businesses or further their education and skills development.
The DA is committed to creating jobs for graduates. The DA is investing in higher education.
We realise that it is a massive investment towards a growing economy. A vote for the DA is a vote for a better deal for students. A vote for the DA is an investment in the future of all students.
Yusuf Cassim, national chairman, DA Youth, former SRC president of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and a DA candidate for the National Assembly