The Congress of South African Trade Unions supports the nationwide students' protests against fee increases. These fee increases are excessive and unaffordable in the current economic climate.
South Africa has a crisis of unemployment and the majority of workers earn less than R5 000 a month. Education is already unaffordable and the above inflation increases will exacerbate an already bad situation.
The corporatisation of education perpetuates the apartheid engineered exclusions of the working class and black people in particular. These fee increases are a sign that most universities are not student centred institutions. They lack the necessary developmental consciousness that can help the country overcome the legacy of apartheid and resolve the existing inequalities.
We are fully behind the call for a free education as promised by the Freedom Charter. This commodification of education will continue to keep working class children at the bottom end of the economic pyramid.
It is an established fact that higher education is correlated with better employment outcomes and greater labour market participation. For most people a university degree offers an escape from unemployment and grinding poverty. Pricing education out of the reach of most people is suicidal for this country.
Cosatu strongly believe that education should be treated as a societal issue, largely located in the hands of government. The whole concept of institutional autonomy of universities does not work because it disconnects these institutions from the reality of our society.
There is a need for more efficient monitoring mechanism, that will ensure that Institutional Resources are fully utilized and are centred towards academic projects. There is also an urgent need to do away with piecemeal cosmetic implementation of Transformation in universities. The Council for Higher education needs to do more to enforce compliance by institutions.
We also demand more transparency with regard to financial reserves that have been privatized by many universities. They should be audited and turned over to National Treasury.
Sizwe Pamla (National Spokesperson): Congress of South African Trade Unions.
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