By Greg Nicolson
Former President Jacob Zuma's fee-free tertiary education plan was always going to be expensive and so higher education and training was the fastest-growing spending category in the Budget tabled on Wednesday. It's come at a cost - higher taxes that are most likely to hit the poor the hardest.
Beginning his speech, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said the Budget had prioritised the country's most pressing issues: "educating our youth, protecting the vulnerable and investing in enablers of inclusive growth". He allocated a total of R324-billion expenditure on higher education over the next three years, including an extra R57-billion to cover fee-free higher education.
"We have shown the ability to find common ground amidst a painful history and deep division, and a fearlessness of youth that has helped us to choose ourselves again and again by giving something up or taking something," Gigaba said.
In December, former President Jacob Zuma suddenly announced the fee-free higher education plan after repeated student #feesmustfall protests in recent years.
Under the plan, first-year students from households earning under R350,000 per annum at universities and TVET colleges will not pay fees. Returning students on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will have...
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