The World Bank has said in a statement that it believes the implementation of South Africa’s free tertiary education policy will hurt the national economy substantially.
Under this new policy, the World Bank said that the demand for tertiary education could increase by 23% at universities and 88% at TVET institutions – a capacity that South Africa cannot support without compromising on education quality.
“More than 90% of potential PSET (post school education and training) students could benefit from the new National Student Financial Aid Scheme, making it progressive as it would reduce income inequality, but would also put a huge strain on the fiscus,” said Sébastien Dessus, World Bank South Africa Program Leader.
Dessus added that this strain would be the “equivalent to about one percentage point of GDP,” and would leave “fewer public resources to increase admission capacity without compromising education quality”.
The World Bank suggested that South Africa should be focused on improving South Africa’s TVET learning spaces, community colleges, distance education institutions, and historically-disadvantaged universities.
It added that implementation of financial aid should be increased progressively by offering financial support to poorer students, while offering income contingent loans to learners.
The World Bank lowered South Africa’s economic growth forecast to 0.9% from 1.4 % in 2018, and predicts that the GDP will expand to 1.3% in 2019, and 1.7% in 2020.