How The DA Would Fix Higher Education

The shoes of Helen Zille, the leader of the political party the Democratic Alliance can be seen decorated with the colours and the logo of her party as she addresses a rally in Soweto, Johannesburg. The Democratic Alliance is the second most supported political party in South Africa and along with all other parties have been campaigning throughout the country ahead of the elections scheduled for 7 May 2014. Picture: IHSAAN HAFFEJEE (12.04.2014)

The Democratic Alliance said it would merge the higher education and training department with science and technology, and also issue bursaries for poor students which wouldn’t have to be paid back upon completion of studies.

Expanding Access and Improving Higher Education and Training

“Post-school education trains and broadens minds, creates and provides access to jobs and helps our economy. Expanding access to quality education and skills training needed by our people and our economy is an essential step in building one South Africa for all,” the DA said.

The party said there were areas of world-class excellence in the country’s tertiary system which needed to be “further enhanced and preserved”.

Aside from, there were many other systemic challenges faced by universities and colleges; according to the party, including poor quality teaching and outdated curricula, mismanagement of institutions, and an “all or nothing funding approach which leaves some students who can afford to partially fund their own education unable to access the system”.

The manifesto promises a comprehensive plan in place to fix the higher education system, and it will improve students access and success by providing among other things, comprehensive bursary packages to students from low-income families who are unable to afford to study.

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Over the years, students from underprivileged backgrounds have been reliant on the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), a funding system which was payable when one secures employment. However, the DA says the bursary packages disbursed to poor students would not have to be reimbursed upon completion of one’s studies.

“Bursaries to these learners would cover comprehensive cost of study, including cover for travel, food, accommodation and learning materials,” the party said.

The party also seeks to merge the Department of Higher Education and Training with the Department of Science and Technology to form the Department of Post-School Education, Research and Innovation.

Improvement of TVET Colleges

The party promises to improve Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET) colleges by “modernising syllabus and staff composition of TVET colleges so that they offer 21st-century training”.

The party has also emphatically pronounced the importance of adult education and promises to empower adults with necessary skills to gain employment and take advantage of opportunities available.

The DA has targeted winning the Gauteng and North West premierships as part of its 2019 elections strategy. In 2014, the party’s 1,349,001 votes got it to 31% in the province.

Featured image by Ihsaan Haffajee

Watch the DA manifesto launch here: