“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity, it is an act of justice, it is the protection of fundamental human rights – particularly the rights to dignity and decent life.”
Poverty is not natural, it is man-made. It can thus be overcome and eradicated by man-made actions. As such, when we make attempts to reverse the legacy of the past as governments and servants of the people, it is not a favour to anyone, it must happen and should happen. This is a joint responsibility that we all share as South Africans. Our primary mandate as public representatives is to advocate for the people of South Africa and this finds expression in the laws and budgets that we pass.
We find ourselves during a critical time in history, a time that requires the government to remain true to its promises and realisation of the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights, particularly the right to education.
It is common cause that there is unequal access to resources and infrastructure, which has a direct impact on the level of access to education, lack of success in institutions of higher learning and a lack of inclusive change that works for all and not for some. Often, students are forced to live in undignified conditions, using desperate measures to survive. It cannot be that in a constitutional democracy, many young people are without jobs and skills.
Yet, the Department of Higher Education and Training has underfunded students and institutions of higher learning in relation to the constraints that they face. The increased medium term allocation of R5 billion is unlikely to make a dramatic impact on access to education in institutions.
One of the cornerstones of the Democratic Alliance’s approach to redress is education and skills training. University and TVET college students from previously disadvantaged backgrounds face dire constraints to excelling and completing their courses. Academic success throughout is essential to economic growth and a growing tax base.
A DA run department of higher education would increase the budget to ensure that there is:
- appropriate subsidies for our institutions of higher learning;
- stability and change in our TVET colleges;
- a drastically improved NSFAS system while ensuring that funds are made available for the support of the missing middle; and
- a restructured Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA’s) so as to ensure that we produce an adequate supply of skilled individuals required by business and the wider economy.
A DA run department would ensure that no student who is academically deserving is denied access in an institution of higher learning because of their circumstances.
In a free society, students would be free to live with dignity whilst pursuing a higher qualification.
In a fair society, students would have an equal opportunity to succeed.
In an opportunity society, success is based on hard work and talent rather than the circumstances of one’s birth.
I thank you.