The report by the World bank shows that the free education policy will increase the demand for tertiary education by 23% at universities. Photo: Nikolayhg/Pixabay.

CAPE TOWN – The World Bank on Tuesday stated in a report that South Africa’s new education policy that wants to provide free tertiary education to students could negatively affect the country's national budget.

Paul Noumba Um, World Bank country director for South Africa said in a statement: "There is a general consensus in South Africa on the need for a skills revolution, which will enable its youth to participate in a skills-hungry economy and make the country’s economy more competitive in a world that is constantly being reshaped by technological progress

“Notwithstanding the long term needs to fundamentally improve the basic education system, investing in human capital by enrolling more students in universities, TVET and community colleges as well as improving the quality of educations is a major imperative.”

The report by the World Bank shows that the free education policy will increase the demand for tertiary education by 23 percent at universities and 88 percent at Technical Vocation Education and Training (TVET) institutions. These statistics according to the institution, is a capacity that South Africa cannot support without compromising on education quality and fiscal sustainability.

Sébastien Dessus, World Bank South Africa Program Leader said in a statement: "We see that more than 90 percent of potential Post School Education and Training (PSET) students could benefit from the new National Student Financial Aid Scheme, making it progressive as it would reduce income inequality but would also put a huge strain on the fiscus, equivalent to about one  percentage point of GDP, leaving fewer public resources to increase admission capacity without compromising education quality"

“Nonetheless this constraint should not deter this objective if difficult but necessary trade-offs are made.”

According to the World Bank, South Africa should be focused on improving South Africa’s TVET learning spaces, community colleges, distance education institutions, and historically-disadvantaged universities.

The Bank believes that the implementation of financial aid should be increased progressively by offering financial support to poorer students while offering income contingent loans to learners.

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