Speaking exclusively to Justmoney following the Momentum Holistic Financial Wellness briefing former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said that tertiary education should be free for students that can’t afford it but added that it was important that those who benefited from free education should pay back to society in some way.
“They should either pay back some of the money if they are able to at a later stage or complete some kind of community service,” said Madonsela who recently completed a fellowship year at Harvard University in America.
She added that it was difficult to recommend that all students who benefit from free education pay back the money or even a portion of it, as some had other financial obligations such as supporting parents or other loved ones.
This is why she is for community service across the board for all students if free education becomes a reality in South Africa. “There has to be a way that we can do this to replenish those resources,” she said.
She also reflected on the fact that she was a beneficiary of a bursary back when she wanted to study law. “I would never have been here if it wasn’t for the generosity of strangers.”
Future at Stellenbosch University
Madonsela is soon set to take up a position as chairperson of social justice at the Stellenbosch University law faculty in 2018 after completing her sabbatcial. She said this think tank will initially focus on three core areas: law, education and health.
“There’s social injustice in everything we do. We’ll focus on social justice for disabled people, and the impact on poor people and older persons,” she said. While she felt government had a role to play she relayed the importance of having other stakeholders involved in education, law and health such as individuals, corporations and other social groups.
She concluded that it was vital that education is a focus point as some students don’t get access to key subjects such as maths. “I have two nieces that currently go to a school which only offers maths literacy as a subject and not mathematics. Government is not looking into this but we’ll certainly be looking into issues such as this.”