Blade appeals to PMB matrics

2016-10-05 09:20
Blade visited his former high school, Georgetown High School on Tuesday to attend a book launch.

Blade visited his former high school, Georgetown High School on Tuesday to attend a book launch. (Supplied)

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Watch the moment police open fire on gathered Wits students

2016-10-04 13:44

Stun grenades and tear gas have been used to disperse gathered students at Wits, some of whom have been detained.WATCH

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has appealed to this year’s matriculants in a bid to stem the tide of protests and destruction at universities around the country.

Nzimande was in Pietermaritzburg to speak at the launch of the book Strive for excellence: A social and political history of Georgetown High School, in Edendale on Tuesday. The school is Nzimande’s alma mater, where he was a pupil in the 1970s.

In a no-holds-barred criticism of the destruction of property at tertiary institutions, Nzimande challenged parents and the matric pupils to call for an end to the anarchy, which he said is being orchestrated by a third force.

The minister said the matriculants would need the university facilities next year and needed to make their voices heard.

“I hope you will be a generation that values educational property and schools, so we do not have what happened at Vuwani where 30 schools were burnt down and we do not know what to do with those matriculants,” he told the pupils who had packed a marquee at the school.

“If this violence continues and universities are forced to shut down, it will be the matriculants who will be affected the most because there will be no spaces at tertiary institutions next year as everybody will be repeating this academic year,” he said.

Nzimande said it was clear that the ongoing protests were being orchestrated by a third force.

“Who are these people that are hell-bent on seeing our universities shut down? A genuine struggle by the students calling for government to speed up free education, which is a government policy by the way, has been politicised.

“We did not fight apartheid so that we can have our property destroyed …” he said.

Nzimande said free education was provided in South Africa, but it did not reach everybody that deserved it.

“This government has opened enormous opportunities, especially for children who are academically capable but come from poor families. If you are doing well, you are going to get assistance from the government.

“The president has appointed a commission to consider how to cover everybody who deserves it.

“NSFAS [National Student Financial Aid Scheme] has supported more than 1,6 million students from poor backgrounds, most of whose parents had never seen the door of a university or college. This year alone, NSFAS is dishing out R14,2 billion to support more than 200 000 students at universities.”

The minister said the exemption of NSFAS-qualifying students and the so-called “missing middle” from fee hikes would cover about 75% of university students.

Nzimande said the ongoing destruction of property at tertiary institutions would most affect those coming from poor families.

The children of the rich would be sent to universities overseas, where the fees would be unaffordable for the poor, he said.

“If this goes on any further and we burn schools, the children that will suffer are those from poor households, because the rich will just send their children overseas." 

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  fees must fall

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