Amidst and post the Fees Must Fall campaign and protests transpired an interesting crowdfunding platform meant to help South African students experiencing financial difficulties in tertiary education. This platform is called the Bursary Network (BN) and almost R100 000 in donations has been raised within only a short number of weeks since their launch for a total of seven (7) students.
The truth of the matter is, free education is a possibility. As to whether our South African government can afford it or not, is another debate for another time but the truth is we need free education for the following reasons:
- We have a high university dropout rate as only 15 -20 per cent of enrolled students graduate. One of the main reasons why students dropout is because they don’t have the fees required to complete their courses.
- Because some students can’t afford fees, they are forced to go find work to try pay off their fees. So they have their education time compromised and thus risk failure and fatigue. This failure in itself, prolongs their time to graduate and thus sustains the low rate of graduation we face amongst our universities. When interviewed on Radio 702, the founder of BN said that they know of one Medical student who enrols for one year and the other year he drops out of school so that he can go work to pay for fees to complete his other academic year. This simply means it can take 7 – 8 years for this student to complete his medical degree. So in a country where we need skills such as the one this student is studying for and many more, it’s no surprise that we should prioritise free education in our country.
- Because of point 2, students who take longer to complete affect the labour market because they get left behind because of their level of skills. Meaning, if there are advancements in the industry, they may not be well equipped to deal with certain problems they encounter in that industry.
- With a high level of educated people, our country would be better equipped to compete with other global economies in terms of productivity, innovation and organisational management.
- Ridding our children of debt allows them more disposable income so that they can spend more once they find employment. This activity will further stimulate and grow our economy. They are also in a better position to save which also has it’s benefits.
- Having more educated citizens reduces crime. This may be a little cliché but it holds true always.
Government needs to work with our youth to find solutions to this pressing issue and many others. The establishment of the BN is one example where if government engages with its people first, it could find amazing and relevant socio-economic solutions.
So come on South Africa, let’s get donating! Roundafire will certainly be playing a role in this, now and in future so come join this progressive community. And to all those students in need of funding, go now to the BN site and register.