The government had promised that students would have fully funded education and now is the time they should deliver on it, Thusanani Foundation CEO Morris Masutha said on Monday as some universities opened its door for registration.
His foundation helps young people in marginalised communities throughout South Africa access post-schooling opportunities. He is also the director for the Centre of Emerging Researchers, which grows and empowers emerging researchers.
Masutha is reportedly the "architect" of South Africa's new plan for free higher education.
News24 reported that Masutha, who had dated President Jacob Zuma's daughter, was behind a plan for free education that flies in the face of the Heher Commission's findings that South Africa cannot afford blanket free higher education. The plan, which Zuma was quick to implement, would see the cutting back of departmental budgets across government departments to make R40-billion available in 2018.
On Monday, Masutha sat down with HuffPost SA and said that fee-free education had been a commitment by the governing party long before 2015 when the first #FeesMustFall protests began.
"What the students need right now is a simplified step-by-step guide to accessing Free Education Grants so that their academic year can commence as soon as possible," Masutha said.
They needed to know whom to talk to, where to go to receive a letter permitting them to proceed to their residence, and how to get through registration to be able to purchase textbooks.
He said in addition to questions about the politics and economic reality over the free education project, it was important for matriculants from poor areas like Venda, Lusikisiki and KwaMashu to know what to expect when they get off the bus at Park Station.
Free education will ultimately help boost South Africa's economy and assist in ensuring that we have a qualified and skilled workforce across all sectors of industry, he said.
Full interview to follow