By Ntsako Shivambu

The no fee increase announcement that was made by South African President Jacob Zuma is a relief to many parents struggling to pay their children tuition fees. With high levels of economic inactivity in the country and low salaries, the announcement will certainly make a difference in many families’ lives.

 

Ike Ngoveni

For Ike Ngoveni, a student at university of Johannesburg whose father is a General worker with Environmental affairs in Limpopo province, the no increase announcement came as an early year-end bonus.

“My father has been struggling to keep me at varsity and the increase was going to worsen the situation” says Ike.

“I know that for higher education to have some quality we ought to contribute something but it becomes tricky because what I might suggest as a contribution may not be affordable for someone else. Perhaps it is possible to maintain quality in a free education system.”

 “My father is the only one working in the family and he is relatively earning peanuts. Most of the time he relies on loan sharks to pay for my fees and it hurts me to see him sink into debt year after year. My fear is that he will reach a point where he cannot be able to borrow anymore. The no fee increase will only help the situation by bringing a temporary relief but the truth is that to ease the burden there ought to be a decrease in fees.”  

Ike’s situation is not unique to him only; sadly many South African parents from low income households are trapped in debt, trying to educate their children.

There have been views on the affordability model for government in relation to higher education, certain section in our society believe we have enough resources.

 “I have seen students dropped by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS in their final year which does not make sense to me.” Ike says. “I have been refused help by NSFAS as well”.

 

The no fee increase will make a difference in other people lives but there is still a lot be done, there are many struggling families that have children that are hungry to further their education. With the country’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s promise to improve NSFAS so that it increases funding for poor students, there is perhaps some light at the end of the tunnel.

Media images of the #FeesMustFall strike 

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