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Historically disadvantaged students

People and Power comprised 6 special reports on socio-economic issues and human rights during March and April 2014. Each report featured a consultation and discussion with a community in South Africa, allowing people to express their views and have a voice on national television.

Historically disadvantaged students

This episode focused on historically disadvantaged students and raised the following issues:

FAILURE TO SUPPORT TOP STUDENTS: According to the students we spoke to, despite government support for student financial aid, there are still a number of academically outstanding students who are turned down for funding in their second or third years at university. It is vital that students achieving high grades are not prevented from continuing at university because of their socio-economic backgrounds.

COMMODIFICATION OF EDUCATION: By charging tuition fees that people can’t afford, we have commodified education in the same way that we have commodified healthcare, which are supposedly constitutionally entrenched socio-economic rights in the Bill of Rights. We need a national debate on whether education is still a constitutional right under these circumstances.

ROLE OF COMPANIES: Employers should play a bigger role in funding higher education, since they have to employ the students that come out of Universities. So it’s in their interests to contribute more to higher education.

TRANSFORMATION: In some cases, financial aid is not reaching those who need it most. Perhaps wealthier students should pay more for education to subsidise the poor. In any case, transformation within universities needs to be a priority so that the student body and the faculty is more representative of the population. Similarly, more effort needs to be made to ensure that student aid reaches the poor.

View the series online