Protesting FET students interdicted

2015-10-03 08:45


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FET College students at five campuses in Pietermaritzburg were yesterday interdicted for damaging property and disrupting classes as their final exams loom.

Umgungundlovu Further Education and Training (FET) College president Patricia Ntshangase says the crux of the dispute between the college and students is that the students “want more cash in their pockets”.

She explained in court papers that the college is paid R30 million annually by government as part of its FET College “bursary scheme”, which it receives in “instalments” during the year.

She said each student enrolled in a state-funded programme must be subsidised by the state at 80% of the total programme cost.

The “bursary scheme” covers the remaining 20% portion of college fees, which “academically deserving and financially needy” students are unable to pay.

“Eighty percent of the students fall into this category,” she said.

Ntshangase said not only the college fees are paid by government but also students’ travel expenses (up to R6 318 per annum per student) and accommodation costs (up to R16 848 per annum per individual).

The college pays the expenses of students “as and when” it receives the funds from government. The only part of the sum that is paid into the students’ bank accounts is for travel expenses, which vary per student based on the distance each has to travel to and from their respective campuses, she said.

She said it therefore takes a lot of time and administration to work out what each student must get and to make the payments.

The students are paid out as soon as possible but it can’t “happen overnight”.

She said during the second week of September students had started disrupting classes at the Msunduzi campus by picketing, toyi-toying and “violently” pulling other students and lecturers out of their classes.

The students causing disruption have been going from campus to campus doing the same. When they start damaging property no other students attend classes because they are scared to do so.

Ntshangase named two students as the ringleaders. Both were unsuccessful students who “never finalised their studies” and were “known troublemakers”, she said.

When the unrest began, groups of up to 200 students joined in.

Ntshangase said that during the disruptions steel sliding gates were smashed down at the main entrance of the Msunduzi campus, destroying the electric motor, classroom windows were broken with stones and the library door was broken down. When it was repaired, it was again destroyed.

Similar incidents have taken place at other campuses, and students and staff have been chased out of classes, and ­tyres burnt.

She said it was only the Edendale campus so far that was not affected.

Ntshangase said trial exams, which commenced on September 21, could not go on because of disruptions and final exams are due to start on October 23.

The Plessislaer, Msunduzi and Northdale campuses were currently closed due to violence.
Ntshangase said it will be a waste of taxpayers’ money if students cannot write their final exams, bearing in mind that 80% of the students are government-funded.

Parents may also decide not to send their children back to college next year and the FET’s funding depends on the number of students that are registered.

The private sector may also “frown upon” students coming from a college where there was unrest and students who did not have qualifications would not get internships, she added.

Judge Anton van Zyl granted an interim interdict, and the case will return to court against on October 15.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  protest

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