05/01/2018 11:30 SAST | Updated 05/01/2018 11:30 SAST

READ: ANCYL's Take On Free Higher Education

"The confusion is intentionally planted and driven in order undermine the decades of struggle by young people."

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The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) congratulates all the matric class of 2017 who sat for their National Senior Certificate (NSC). Their dedication, commitment and performance brings hope that the call by ANCYL and the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) structures to make education fashionable is embraced by majority of young people of our country.

The ANCYL encourages 2017 matric learners who did not do well to use various opportunities that are provided by the African National Congress (ANC) led government to improve their results. The ANCYL working together with the PYA structures more so COSAS will provide necessary support to those learners to ensure that they access second chance options.

The learners who have passed in 2017 represents a historic class in South Africa as some of them particularly those coming from households earning annual income of below R350 000 will be the first group of Matriculants to access free tertiary education in 2018. All the learners from the families of the poor and working class who have passed grade 12, meet the admission criteria of tertiary institutions and have applied will receive free education.

Contrary to the doomsayers, doubters and beneficiaries of commodification of education who characterize access to free tertiary education as a cost, the ANCYL is resolute that this is a necessary investment which in a long term will contribute towards economic growth of our country and moving away most of the families from the social welfare programmes.

Education cannot be classified as unaffordable costs particularly when it has to be accessed by children of the economically marginalized. It is the responsibility of the ANC and its government to ensure that it uses access to education as a tool to eradicate inequality, unemployment and poverty.

The ANC Youth League would like to make it crystal clear that there is no crisis created as a result of the provision of Free Education for the poor in institutions of higher learning. The confusion is intentionally planted and driven in order undermine the decades of struggle by young people. The confusion seeks to position the income contingency loans proposal as a viable option in order to profit commercial banks. This ploy is meant to further make young people slaves of commercial banks by drowning them into debt before they even get a chance to shape their future.

The program is available to all qualifying learners soon to be students, who have applied and have been accepted to Institutions of Higher Learning and have met the entrance requirements for those institutions. The NSFAS system has been in the past proven sufficient to identify poor and qualifying students therefore the identification of poor students cannot be a crisis today.

The structures of the Progressive Youth Alliance in campuses has been on the ground as from the 3rd of January to assist all students as they arrive on campuses. This is something that the PYA led by SASCO in campuses have been doing for decades without seeking media attention and praises. The ANC Youth League would like to salute volunteers of the movement cadres of Oliver Tambo, who cut their holidays shot in order to embark on the "Right to Learn Campaign". This is a campaign that has over the years produced a bright future for many young people who are now employed in business and government.

The ANC Youth League will continue to wage the struggle for access to higher education which now involves growing the tertiary education sector infrastructure for increased intake of students. We will continue to wage a relentless struggle against institutional autonomy which results into commercialization of education. It is the view of the Youth League that education is a public good and as such no institution must have autonomy over who access it and how.

The ANC Youth League rejects the ill-informed demagoguery pseudo Marxist-Leninist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to cause chaos at the tertiary institutions. Their call to have all who have passed matric including those who have not applied to study at the tertiary institutions to report to tertiary institutions is nothing else but attempt to derail the plans of implementing a free tertiary education without any hindrances. Their attention seeking behaviour at the expense of the children of the poor and working class must be exposed, frowned upon and be rejected.

The ANCYL calls all its members, supporters and young people in general to defend the gains of democracy and ensure that free tertiary education is implemented without any hindrances.