Students protesting at the Wits University.
Fani Mahunts, Gallo Images
- The students want the scrapping of students’ R13 billion historical debt, among other issues.
- SAUS says more universities are expected to join in the protests.
- Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Blade Nzimande issued a plea to students to speak to university management.
The mass student protest is expected to continue on Tuesday, this as no resolution has been found to meet the demands of The South African Union of Students (SAUS). On Monday students took to the street to make good on their promise to bring the country’s 26 universities to a standstill.
SAUS Secretary-General Lwandile Mstolo told News24 no effort had been made from the Department of Higher Education to meet their demands:
“The protest will continue until we have been responded too and until we are happy with the way they meet our demands. Until now we have not received any response and we will not return to classes.”
Mstolo said they have received indications from several other SRC representatives from various other universities saying they will join the shutdown.
“We do expect on Tuesday more universities to be shut down and it will be more broadly. I want it to be noted that we are refusing to give in,” he said.
The students want the scrapping of students’ R13 billion historical debt, among other issues.
Here are the demands by SAUS:
Financial clearance of historical debt for students, which currently stands at R13 billion.
Justice for the family of Mthokozisi Ntumba and the end to police brutality against students.
Immediate provision of post-graduate funding.
Allocation of NSFAS funding for first-time entering students and new students.
Laptops for students.
Student allowances to be provided in March.
Increase student enrolment quotas.
Free registration for all students during the 2021 academic year.
Provide students with academic records and certificates, even if they still owe fees.
Zero percent fee increase for 2021 academic year.
Free quality education for the poor and the missing middle.
Suspension of academic exclusion for the 2021 academic year.
100% return of all students to campuses under Level 1 of the lockdown.
Extension of registration period to 30 April.
NSFAS appeals to be opened and finalised within the next two weeks.
While the University of Cape Town and University of the Western Cape was quiet. There were protests at Rhodes University in the early hours of Monday morning. The ANCYL also held demonstrations outside the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) offices in Wynberg, where they met with the CEO for several hours.
The ANC Youth League’s Lindokuhle Xulu said: “We met with NSFAS for three hours to discuss the challenges our students are facing and the problem we are seeing is that at NSFAS everything is centralised there is one branch that takes care of all the provinces and to us this is not realistic. Education cannot be turned into a commodity it has to be free and equal.”
ANCYL members protest outside NSFAS offices.
Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande said: “I am informed by NSFAS that it is working hard to finalise appeals so that students are not prevented from registering in time to start the 2021 academic year. I urge student structures to continue engaging with the management teams of all our public universities, utilising the communication structures that are already in place for this engagement. Many of the matters that you have raised with me require that students and university management work together at institutional level.”
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