Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has described President Jacob Zuma as the saviour of poor students.
Speaking during a Higher Education Stakeholder Summit on Monday, the minister said Zuma’s magnanimity towards poor students clearly reflected in his “generous budget” for higher education and the establishment of National Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas).
“Poor students would not have succeeded if it were not for the president,” Nzimande said when he introduced President Zuma at the forum held at Kempton Park today.
The summit was organised to find lasting solutions to the current protests at campuses across the country. It was attended by various sectors, including the business; labour and faithbased sectors; students; parents and university management.
Minister Blade Nzimande Pleads With Students
Minister Blade Nzimande, who looked excited and a bit relieved kicked off his opening remark by saying; “forward with free education for the poor, forward!” He also pleaded with students transform South Africa’s universities rather than destroying them over fee hike.
“South Africa’s Higher Education System is by far the single largest university system on the continent, and also the only one with consistently strong global reputation from a number of institutions. We need to transform and not destroy the system,” Blade pleaded.
Speaking also, President Zuma reminded the students that the current crisis on campuses has the potential to destroy universities across the country.
He, therefore, called on all and sundry to help find a solution to the situation as government alone can not do it.
“Government cannot work alone to find solutions; universities also cannot find a solution working alone. We need to work together for the sake of the future as a country and nation,” Zuma said.
Violence sparked off in higher institutions of learning after the government announced that universities would determine their own tuition rates for 2017, with increases capped at 8%.
The protests so far claimed the life of an employee at the Wits University. At least R600 million of damage has been caused to campus property across the country since the protests started a year old.