Education International
Education International

South Africa’s president backs down from raising university tuition

published 23 October 2015 updated 26 October 2015

President Jacob Zuma has reversed his decision to raise tuition fees in 2016 amid major student protests that have swept across the country in opposition to a proposed 11.5 percent hike.

Protests, which are being called the biggest since the end of apartheid, have taken South Africa by storm this week as students have made their voices loud and clear to oppose the government’s plan to raise university tuition fees by as much as 11.5 percent next year. Tensions at many demonstrations have boiled over as students clashed with police.

The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) voiced their support in a strong statement calling on the government to make higher education accessible to all.

“We call upon the Department of Higher Education to take a lead in setting the fee structure for tertiary institutions,” read the statement. “We cannot afford a situation where South Africa, as a developing country, to  have the Universities which are being run like businesses and therefore exclude the majority from accessing this right which takes them away from poverty.”

Basil Manuel, The president of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA), said that “we need to stop this abhorrent culture of sacrificing the education of our children every time government fails at something” in response to the government cutting subsidies to higher education.

The rising costs of tuition and books have put a financial strain on students, many of whom struggle to make ends meet in a country with large discrepancies in wealth.