The high price of education and data in SA
Findings by the FinScope consumer survey suggest that black consumers are most heavily burdened.
FILE PICTURE: Vaal University of Technology students prevent staff members from entering the campus, demanding more money from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), 3 September 2014. NSFAS is a government student loan and bursary scheme. Some claim they have not received any funds for the past three months. Picture: Nigel Sibanda
In the wake of the #DataMustFall campaign, it seems that the data revolution might have a valid and legitimate plea. The campaign founders made a presentation before the Parliamentary Communications and Postal Committee on September 21 on the costs of data in the country. According to the soon-to-be launched findings of the FinScope South Africa 2016 consumer survey, the results show that the average South African spends about 9% of their purse on airtime and data recharge, cellphone contracts, telephone lines and internet payments. The average person spends about R700 a month for communication-related expenses.
Parallel to the #DataMustFall campaign, which is gaining traction, is the #FeesMustFall (reloaded) campaign, which is also resurfacing in light of the announcement of an up to 8% fee increase made by the Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande. While university students would like to see a 0% increase, universities are requesting increases to sustain operations and fund research.
Therefore, in light of these developments and expenses, how does the purse of the South African consumer fare? The preliminary results of the FinScope 2016 survey shows that South Africans spend R688 per month on average on education.
The FinScope findings further show that South Africa’s total personal monthly consumption (PMC) expenditure in 2016 is estimated at R220 billion (monthly). On a monthly basis, the average individual spent about R5 400 during the period of conducting the FinScope 2016 survey. The results show that the main components of expenditure are on food (21%), transport (11%), utilities (11%) and communication, which amount to 9% of the spending purse.
Overall, individuals’ spending on education is 6% of their purse (estimated monthly spend of R12.2 billion). Further demographic analysis of the data per race showed that black communities still bear the greatest brunt of the education costs. For the average black South African, education expenses constitute 7% of their purse – this is higher compared with other races, for which the purse composition for coloured, Asian, Indian and whites are at an average of 4.3% of their purse.
Furthermore, as one analyses the data further, it shows that nearly 12 million black South Africans spend more than 10% of their purse on education-related expenses. This is further exacerbated when noting that the average income per month is R4 723, R6 294, R12 265 and R17 123 for black, coloured, Indian and white South Africans respectively. As such, the cost of education places a heavier burden on black South Africans.