The minister, who was in Parliament presenting the funding implications of a zero increment in university fees in 2016 to Parliament’s standing and select committees on appropriations, as well as the portfolio committee on higher education, has responded to media reports that he had failed to act on a 2012 document that found it was possible to provide free university tuition to the poor.
“It is untrue that I have been sitting on this report,” said Blade Nzimande. “That is why those journalists who tried to publish the report could only write two paragraphs.
“When that report was released, it was presented to all stakeholders,” said Nzimande.
But the Democratic Alliance’s Yusuf Cassim later disputed this, saying it had never been presented to Parliament.
Nzimande said the recommendations made in the report, as well as guidance from the Constitution and the Freedom Charter, provided the department and ministry with a “bible” on funding free education.
Nzimande said free education for all was unsustainable and that providing free basic education and higher education to the poor had always been the ANC-led government’s objective.
He said the government would consider providing free education to the children of civil servants and children from lower-middle income households.