The debate was facilitated by Gaisang Diyale, a CA and secretary of ABASA Tshwane. He highlighted the importance of such engagements. The first speaker was Prof. de la Rey who responded to the question of the feasibility and the reasonability of free education with the answer “yes, it is possible”. However, she highlighted the problem of sourcing the funding and the obstacle of the high intake of students. Gounden, the second panellist, started by applauding the conduct of the students during the #FeesMustFall campaign, saying their “leadership and aspirations make [him] comfortable that the country is in good hands”. According to Gounden, the government should be able to hold the universities accountable and institutional autonomy should be scrapped to maintain transparency. Reducing fees should lead to the increase in bursaries for students. In addition, Mr Gounden said that, “the #FeesMustFall [campaign] exposed the dual economy of the country, one very privileged and affluent and one living in poverty”. In his response to the questions posed: who is responsible for funding the revolution, who is free education for, and how can it be funded, Shingange started off by saying, “free education needs to be broken down into content and fee structure”. The curriculum, according to Shingange, ought to reflect post-colonial South Africa. Furthermore he said that free education is for everyone. In order to come to a workable solution, the state, businesses, and the public sector ought to work together in raising the capital to fund free education. Coutoulas, the last panellist speaker for the evening, provided contentious methods to funding the revolution. The first was listing the universities on the JSE. Second to that was that private financial institutions would have to increase the pool of funds available to students, that institutions of higher learning would have to create work programmes and that tutoring that uses a credit based system should be introduced. In addition, he proposed that the government needs to increase its higher education subsidy from 0.75% to 1.3%. Following the panellist discussion, students were able to ask relevant questions as well as raise their concerns.
Image: Mammetja Mogotane