A policy agenda setting analysis of free higher education in a post-apartheid South Africa.
This study presents and applies Agenda Setting theory or the Multiple Stream model by Kingdon on the free higher education policy proposal in post-apartheid South Africa. The aim was to uncover how and why free higher education has been elevated onto the agenda of decision-makers; and why it is not yet an accepted policy proposal. Kingdon argued that for a policy proposal to be considered, it must be technically feasible, anticipate future constraints and receive enough political support or consensus. Apart from that, the following streams of action must converge: the problem must be clearly defined, feasible solutions offered and political consensus obtained. Using qualitative methods such as thematic and documentary analysis to collect and analyse data, the study has discovered that free higher education has been pushed onto the agenda because it was aimed at addressing the problem of unequal access to higher education. Mechanisms such as continual marches and protests by South African Students' Congress (SASCO) have been used to push this policy proposal onto the government and decision agenda. The study has also discovered that it is not yet an accepted policy proposal primarily because it is considered to be not feasible by decision-makers. Furthermore, it has not received enough political support or consensus. Lastly, it is not yet an accepted policy proposal because the streams of action have not yet converged. The study shows that the events in the policy and political streams have been the major hindrances for these streams to meet despite a clear indication that the problem in question is significant: South African higher education is still confronted by high university dropout rates.