"The funds can be found without big cuts to other programmes," says Neva Makgetla in the article "Funding can be found to implement free-education plan" (January 16). While she does recognise that our country has a zero-sum situation and political populism "usually ends in tears", Makgetla ignores two important facts that must play a role in deciding expenditure priorities.

The first is the tertiary-level drop-out rate which constitutes a significant waste and inflationary factor.

The second is that while she states "it’s hard to overstate how much a degree counts", she seems unaware that even graduates are finding the economy so depressed that the supply of jobs cannot meet the demand.

Wasting taxpayers’ money on the education of drop-outs when the economy cannot employ even the successful suggests that economic progress needs to come before shotgun education policies.

Her deprecation of the Treasury control over the budget reveals an irresponsible or  ignorant attitude often displayed by those who wish for a Utopia.

Uncontrolled and wasteful government spending will certainly end in tears for drop-outs, unemployed graduates and
lambasted taxpayers.

Better teaching at schools, stricter admission criteria in higher education and business-friendly policies are needed before idealism and largess are even considered.

Let’s get the economy ticking over before we give it away.

Gavin Barnett
Somerset West