South Africa is not prioritising education, resulting in the university crisis that has led to disruptions on campuses across the country for more than a month, Statistician-General Pali Lehohla said.
Lehohla yesterday released Stats SA’s financial statistics of higher education institutions for 2015.
He criticised the government and the public for not viewing education as a priority.
If education is priority 18 out of 20, then what we have is what we’ve called upon ourselves…
“When we asked society in a survey, they said education is priority No 18. In the local government elections politicians spoke about water, sanitation and electricity but did not say anything about education. Until we change our priorities the government will never get this thing right. If education is priority 18 out of 20, then what we have is what we’ve called upon ourselves,” he said.
Lehohla described the “bloated” higher education system and a lack of a proper funding model as two of the main reasons for the protracted #FeesMustFall impasse between institutions of higher learning, students and the Department of Higher Education.
“The system is ineffective, it takes longer for students to finish their degrees. It is not processing the students at the speed they should be processed. That is what is making this system more expensive,” Lehohla said.
The total number of students enrolled in higher education in 2015 was 985212 and of these about 400,000 enrolled at Unisa.
Asked if free education was a possibility, Lehohla said education could never be free, it should be paid for, but the instrument of payment was crucial: “There is nothing that goes for free, education must be paid and paid by our taxes.
“It’s about choices, as in at what point do we tax. You can’t tax students before they work. There is evidence that 92% of graduates find work. So the choices are there and it’s up to South Africans to decide.”
Siphe Macanda is a political reporter at the Daily Dispatch.
This article appeared in timeslive.co.za on 26 October 2016