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Free education should be welcomed if SA can afford it: NSFAS chair

NSFAS chair Sizwe Nxasana.
NSFAS chair Sizwe Nxasana.

President Jacob Zuma’s decision to offer free education to first-year students in 2018 should be welcomed if the country can afford it‚ the chairperson of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) said on Monday.

“The decision has to be welcomed‚ assuming that the country can afford to do all of that‚” NSFAS chair Sizwe Nxasana said on Radio 702.

On Saturday Zuma announced that free higher education for poor and working-class students would be introduced for first-year students in 2018 and fully phased in over five years.

He revised the definition of poor and working-class students to “currently enrolled TVET (technical and vocational education and training) colleges or university students from South African households with a combined annual income of up to R350‚000”.

Nxasana said the government would need to work with the private sector and “give them not just funding but also make sure we are producing the kind of skills the country desperately needs to grow our economy”.

He said NSFAS would continue to administer financial aid.

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