Free education. Not just free basic education, but up to university level.
It’s a demand that has grown louder and louder over the past few months and this week it will culminate into an angry scream outside the country’s seats of power.
And it’s not just students leading the charge anymore either.
Some academics have joined the #FeesMustFall protests this week, blaming government for misspending the budget.
I believe the futures of under-developed and developing nations depend almost solely on it making education free for all its citizens.
And I believe we should do this to the exclusion of everything else.
The students call this “decommodifying of education”.
In other words, it would be a prudent long-term plan for government to stop spending on everything else and focus its entire fiscus on education for at least one generation, and longer if possible.
Yes there would mean a natural decline of our infrastructure (roads, hospitals, bridges, etc.) for a period of time.
But then those students would graduate and bring with them a youthful determination, a patriotic sense of gratitude and a willingness to put to practice all that they have learned.
Can you just imagine an entire generation of highly trained young people – programmers, actuaries, doctors, engineers, designers, technicians and others?
In exchange for us having paid for their education and training, they would be tied to a public institution for a period of time, giving back some of those invaluable skills.
Yes, I am over-simplifying it and, yes, it sounds suspiciously communist or socialist, but so what.
We are benefiting from this very thinking in Cuba, a communist friend with such an over-supply of brilliant medical specialists that they can afford to lend them to other countries by the dozens.
By the way, all of them are trained free of charge by the state.
I have heard many explanations for why this cannot work here, but none of it is particularly reasonable or convincing, in my opinion.
So how about it, Minister Blade Nzimande?
Put that degree in philosophical sociology to good use and explain to me why this can’t work here.
Better still, as General Secretary of the SA COMMUNIST party, why does this not make more sense to you than it does to me?
As someone who used to teach Karl Marx’s theories, did you forget about the “free education” clause in the Communist Manifesto?
Or is it a bit inconvenient at the moment?