The stark choices facing the government are nowhere more apparent than in education, where free higher education has been allocated three times more funding than school infrastructure. The government began providing higher-education bursaries to students from poor and working-class families in 2018, fulfilling former president Jacob Zuma’s promise to the national student protest movement that began in 2015. The Treasury expects 2.8-million students at universities and technical vocational education and training (TVET) colleges will benefit from these bursaries between 2018-2019 and 2021-2022. Funding to cover their study costs, which is directed through the national student financial aid scheme (NSFAS), is set to rise from R27.1bn in 2018-2019 to R33.29bn in 2019-2020, and then increase to R37.9bn in 2020-2021 and to R40bn in 2021-2022, according to the Budget Review. These figures stand in sharp contrast to the allocations made to basic education for fixing school infrastructure: t...

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