South African President Jacob Zuma on Saturday promised free higher education next year to students from underprivileged families, one of the main claims of slingshots that have recently rocked universities in the country.
“The government will introduce free higher education and training for all South African students from the poor and working classes, starting in 2018 for first-year university students,” Zuma said a statement.
South African universities were agitated in 2015 and 2016 by a violent wave of student protest provoked by rising tuition fees.
"The government will introduce free higher education and training for all South African students from the poor and working classes, starting in 2018 for first-year university students,"
This sling, grouped under the slogan #Feesmustfall (“the expenses must disappear”), took a very political turn.
Many protesters took the opportunity to denounce the persistence of racial inequalities in the country’s education, nearly a quarter of a century after the fall of apartheid.
According to a study by the South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR), 27.5% of whites had a university degree in 2014, compared with only 5.3% of blacks.
President Zuma’s announcement comes just hours before the opening of the long-awaited African National Congress (ANC) conference, which has been in power since 1994, to elect his successor as party leader.
A very close duel pits the current Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa, supported by the moderate wing of the ANC, with the candidate supported by Mr. Zuma, his ex-wife and former boss of the African Union (AU) Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
The free university education promised by Zuma, whose mandate as head of state must expire after the general elections of 2019, will affect more than 90% of students in favor of a redefinition of the criteria of the “poor” classes and workers “.
The maximum level of their income has been lowered to 350,000 rand (less than 22,000 euros) per year, he announced.
“Students who fall into the category of poor and working class will be funded by government allowances and not by loans,” Zuma said.
The South African trouble for years to overcome the economic and financial crisis in 2008. Unemployment is there a record rate of over 27%.