Recent announcement by the minister of Higher Education on a compulsory fee hike turns out not welcomed by varsity students who had since his announcement on Monday, engaged in wild protests.
Minister Blade Nzimande announced on Monday, that universities in the country could individually determine the level of (fee) increase that their institutions require. But he cautioned that no university’s fees should be raised by more than 8%.
Hours after the minister’s announcement of the 8% fee increase, students from various universities trooped out en masse to protest against the fee hike.
Though the minister’s policy is popularly seen as “pro-poor”, in that it exempted students who benefit from the National Student Aid Financial Scheme (NSFAS) as well as those whose parents earn too much money to qualify for loans from NSFAS but too little to actually afford university fees (the missing middle), from the 2017 fee hike, varsity students still went on with their protest against the policy declaring it unacceptable.
Students were seen holding mass meetings at various campuses to discuss their responses and plan their next moves.
Speaking to news reporters On Monday, the Economic Freedom Fighters Students Command (EFFSC) said students are bent on carrying out their protests as long as the government decides to increase tuition fee.
EFFSC leader Mpho Morolane said the movement would engage various student organizations to map a way forward.
“Our response to the minister’s announcement is that we are demanding free education now,” Morolane said.
SA Students Congress (SRC) president Thabo Moloja said the rich had to pay for tertiary education.
“We must also take into consideration the minister’s announcement was only a temporary solution and, therefore, our struggle for free education for the poor will continue,” Moloja said, pointing out that varsity students had planned to go on a mass shutdown once the institution had announced their fees.
Turn out the state government would face yet another mass student protest across the country as analyst say student are not happy about controversial issues in all higher institutions which government has turned blind eyes to, two of such issues include: inequality, of decolonization.
Meanwhile, the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pietermaritzburg campus plans to carry out a protest march to the provincial legislature today as student leaders noted that the march would not only be attended by varsity students, but also by members of the community and school pupils.
“These demands were simple,” student leader Chuma Wakeni said, adding that the march would be peaceful, but if the demonstrators were met with violence by police they will fight back with violence.
“Free education now,” Wakeni said
“We are going to be violent too in order to give them some morality and humanize them,”
“We applied for this march and it was approved,” Wakeni charged.
“If the president continues to ignore this call, we will join others to rally for mass action and take our battle to the foot of parliament, Treasury and the Union Buildings,” CT’s student representative council said.
While this goes on, universities are expected to focused on security, on keeping campuses open or shutting them down amid safety concerns for the next few days.
On this, Professor Suellen Shay said there’s no head space to tackle students’ underlying deep-seated anger and frustration.