Following Gwede Mantashe’s advice for universities to be shut down pending when students clamp down their violent protests, Wits university says it may shut down academic activities for the rest of the year.
The university board noted this following relentless student protests within the past months which has jeopardized its 2016 academic programme
Adam Habib, Witwatersrand university vice-chancellor lamented over how the ongoing #feesmustfall protests by students have disrupted learning activities in 17 out of 26 institutions across the state.
He said the university would hold special General Assembly on Friday and that the theme of the assembly will be The Principle of free education and how the Wits community approaches it.
Habib further noted that the assembly will be a platform for the university to say that it has arrived at a consensual position on free education.
To prove how serious this is taken, the VC said negotiations have been ongoing over the past 24 hours.
“We are going to destroy higher education if there isn’t some level of rationality that emerges, among protesters, but among the stakeholders as well,” Wits VC, Habib lamented.
Wits University and the University of Cape Town have among other schools, had all the doors of their campuses closed down due to student’s protest insisting that government has to keep its promise of offering free education.
To this, Wits Habib said he hoped that the university can proceed with the full academic programme on Monday. “If this doesn’t work, then we are in very [sic] slippery ground. We have two options, either to open with the police and with security services, or if that doesn’t succeed, we will have to close down, including the residences.
“It’s not a threat, it’s a simple statement of fact that if Wits University is not teaching and not doing research then there’s no purpose for it to be open,” he added.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Wits University said resumption and completion of the 2016 academic programme is a key priority for the university in the next few weeks, Businesstech reported.
“We are revising the academic calendar and developing a new examinations timetable. These plans will be discussed at a meeting of Senate before being circulated to the university community,” it said in a statement.
The university said that it had agreed the following three points with students:
- The academic programme will resume on Monday, 10 October 2016. Students have committed to working with management to save the 2016 academic year.
- The police will be withdrawn from Wits’ campuses and will remain on the perimeter. We have the express commitment from all parties that there will be no violence or intimidation of students and staff, and that there will be no destruction of property.
- All stakeholders will work together towards holding a General Assembly on Friday, 7 October 2016. It will focus on obtaining a consensual position on the principle of access to higher education.
The ANC Secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe said at the start of the students’ protests last month, that he would close universities for a prolonged period to teach protesting students a lesson if he were the Education Minister.
The party chair who seemed irritated by the growing students’ protests said if schools close down for a period of one year, people will know higher education will be important for their future. “You are not doing anyone a favor by studying,” he added.
More universities are expected to also close down if varsity students protest persist.