As SA holds its breath to find out how Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba plans to fund free higher education when he delivers his budget speech on Wednesday, it is important not to lose focus on the key issues facing the education system. How will increased access to education translate into increased employment to drive growth? The issue of equal opportunity in higher education has rightly been brought to the fore by the Fees Must Fall movement and former president Jacob Zuma’s subsequent announcement of free higher education for poor and working-class students. He later clarified his definition of these students as "currently enrolled" technical and vocational education and training (TVET) college or university students "from South African households with a combined annual income of up to R350‚000". Participation in higher education is an important marker for SA as it seeks to tackle its skills challenges. However, participation is not enough. Discussions need to include how to ensur...

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