The South African Further Education and Training Student Association (SAFETSA) says the violence that has marred student protests must end immediately.
SAFETSA President Yonke Twani was speaking at the Higher Education Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Monday in Boksburg. The forum is convened by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande and is attended by students, parents, business and labour.
Twani said those who destroy university infrastructure must face the law.
“We cannot continue like this… when you bring law enforcement in place, it means you are saying there must be peace,” he said.
Twani echoed President Jacob Zuma’s sentiments, who said in his keynote address to the forum that education is a collective responsibility.
“We appreciate the efforts by government and the department for giving bursaries to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college students…”
The Vice Chancellor of Wits University, Professor Adam Habib, warned that if the situation at universities does not change, they will not be able to graduate anyone this year.
“The country will have 1 600 fewer doctors in January 2017 and the economy will have to deal with 1 000 fewer engineers and accountants.”
He said 16 of the 26 universities in the country were closed on Monday due to ongoing violent protests by some students.
“… Urgent engagement is needed to immediately resolve the fee issue. No students should not study due to violence,” said Professor Habib.
Speaking on behalf of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, Sdumo Dlamini said the union is committed to work with both government and students in finding solutions to challenges of higher education.
“As parents, we are directly affected by the situation. We also support the initiative by government to cap the fee increase for 2017… Government has also recognised the workers in South Africa through the ‘missing middle’… That goes a long way to ease the burden a little bit,” said Dlamini.
Mohale Ralebitso, a representative from business, said the sector is committed to finding solutions that do not undermine the parties involved.
“We believe that a sustainable solution must be crafted amongst the concerned groups. The damaging of property adds pressure on the already strained resources,” said Ralebitso. – SAnews.gov.za
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