Let’s begin with a correction to the protester rhetoric: there is no such thing as free education. Somebody always pays. The notion that “government must pay” is itself misleading. Officials redeploy other people’s money, the taxpayers’ money, to pay for social goods like education.

Nor do students in schools and universities not pay. No matter how much government might put into university fees, students and their families always pay, even if the basic needs — tuition, accommodation and books — are covered by outside agencies. Poor students have to find money for transportation, field trips, laboratory materials and basic living needs, from soap to sanitary pads and toothpaste. And then, of course, a decision to go to university means income deferred, even if that was in low-paying jobs. Education is never free.

Poor students have a point. Those who qualify for higher education as a result of good academic high school marks have a reasonable expectation that they could pursue a higher degree and find well-paid employment on graduation. ….more

How you will pay for Zuma’s free education plan