Chaos at FET campuses

2012-10-11 00:00

STRIKING students disrupted a music competition at the Northdale FET college yesterday when they demonstrated at all the Pietermaritzburg campuses.

The protesters, who said their grievances included a lack of textbooks and cramped residences, said they would continue to disrupt lectures and tests until they were heard.

At the Plessislaer campus, protesters burnt tyres and threw rubbish bins at the gates, blocking the entrance to the campus.

They did the same at the Midlands, Msunduzi, and Northdale campuses, disrupting scheduled tests and a music competition for KwaZulu-Natal FETs.

Heavily armed police were on guard at three entrances at the Northdale campus as striking students tried to bar choir competition participants from gaining entry to the hall.

The competition was delayed for more than four hours.

Umgungundlovu FET student representative council (SRC) secretary general Philani Nduli accused the college management of not taking students' grievances seriously.

“Our grievances include insufficient textbooks, as we normally get them from the college. Even the library is not well equipped with books.

“Computer laboratories are not in a conducive condition for students to do their work. Sometimes we use Internet cafés for school work. We want access cards to limit campus access to students only,” said Nduli.

He said living conditions at the Plessislaer residence are poor.

“The residence is small … you get four students sharing a room. We also want all students to get the National Student Financial Aid Scheme [NSFAS],” said Nduli.

Some students, who did not want to be named, felt the timing of the strike was poor as they could not write prescribed tests due to intimidation.

“The timing of the SRC to allow this action is bad. We are writing tests and this is definitely improper. We understand their concerns, which, of course, were raised with the management several times, but we should also think of the repercussions of the strike,” said one student.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed that large groups of FET students protested outside various campuses regarding internal matters, and that the police were monitoring the situation.

Higher Education and Training spokesperson Vuyelwa Qinga could not be reached for comment as she was in a meeting with Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande.

The strike is set to continue today.

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