Offering free university education to all and sundry is a waste of money. I am all for helping the poor, but it must be done sensibly with a plan to ensure that value for money is obtained.

The place to start is to determine the needs of the country. Which skills are in short supply? Where is there an oversupply? How can the money and the education it buys best serve SA?

There is, for instance, a desperate shortage of municipal engineers, so invest in young people who want to become engineers. Offer them free university or technical education without delay.

Municipalities with more technical skills and fewer bureaucrats will pay dividends in terms of service delivery and improved quality of life.

Popular degrees in sociology and psychology have their value but they are not the building blocks of "the better life for all" we were promised. So why finance these studies when there may be a surplus of these graduates?

We need an education-development plan to build the skills and resources of the country. How many accountants, doctors, lawyers, scientists and teachers do we need? We should look at successful countries and see where they have concentrated their educational investments.

Without a plan, free tertiary education can be a dreadful waste of money.

Janine Myburgh
President of Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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