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Let's be honest about fee-free education

Songezo Zibi
Mon, 08-Jan-2018, 22:03
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By Songezo Zibi from South Africa.

President Jacob Zuma's announcement that students from poor families will henceforth be able to complete their studies without paying a cent has caused much debate. Before I get into my argument, I want to categorically state my principle position on this issue.

Poor students should not have to pay a cent for education until they have graduated from university. My personal struggles as a student, and those of my friends, had an intense indignity that induced unimaginable mental strain. It is debilitating for any child to go through such hardship, yet this is the reality of poor students.

The arguments I make here are merely concerned with the practicalities of achieving fee-free education. We all have a responsibility to be honest about what is possible and in how much time. Giving the public and poor students the impression that their problems will vanish in an instant is dishonest. No such thing will happen, especially not at such short notice.

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