ANC Women's League throws support behind student protests

By Drum Digital
20 October 2015

The ANC Women's League has thrown its support behind protesting students, who it says are showing "courage and thirst" for education

"The fee increases show total inconsideration of the economic situation of the country and generally [are] far above the inflation rate," ANCWL spokesperson Toko Xasa said in a statement.

"Parents who have to pay these fees - the majority of which are women - are the poor and working class."

She said the women's league was against registration fees having to be paid up front, which was a major barrier for the poor who relied on the student financial aid scheme to further their education.

The league demanded proper consultation and practical consideration of the realities faced by young people in determining fee increases.

"We call upon university councils not to treat students like children, but engage in an open and transparent dialogue.

"The principle of access to education is key to the transformation of our country," said Xasa.

The protest over an increase in university fees started at the University of Witwatersrand last week.

Since then, students at Rhodes University, Stellenbosch University and the University of Cape Town have joined the cause, barricading entrances to the universities and bringing activities and lectures to a halt.

University of Fort Hare students joined the protest on Tuesday and University of Pretoria students were expected to join soon.

Minister for Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande was expected to hold talks with vice chancellors at higher learning institutions across the country on Tuesday.

The ANC in Gauteng was also standing in solidarity with protesting students.

"We believe that the actions of the students at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg can be used as a catalyst to achieving the required transformation," the ruling party in Gauteng said in a statement.

"These young people have given the country a wake-up call, showing us that transformation in tertiary institutions is a necessity that must be dealt with, now. The issue of high fees is not one that can be deferred to tomorrow."

It said the country needed to discuss the possibility of fee-free higher education now.

The Young Communist League of SA expressed concern at what it called "exorbitant" university fee increases.

"As the YCLSA, we are strongly opposed to any measures adopted by institutions of learning to convert education from a constitutional right, to a commodity-privilege for a few – mostly students from well-off and capitalist families whose parents have the money to buy access," spokesperson Khaya Xaba said in a statement.

The organisation welcomed the work being done by the department of higher education and the presidency to find solutions.

"As the YCLSA, we are calling on universities to reverse exorbitant fee increases and not prevent students from writing examinations solely because they are poor and cannot afford to pay. All students must be allowed to write their examinations."

Source: News24

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