Parent group lobbies Parliament to intervene in fees crisis

2016-10-13 21:01

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Cape Town - A civil organisation representing concerned parents has requested that Parliament convenes a special and urgent sitting of both Houses to help resolve the ongoing fees crisis.

The Higher Education Parents Dialogue (HEParD) appeared before a joint sitting of Parliament's higher education committees on Wednesday along with the department of higher education to present its requests before MPs.

The group is a national alliance that includes parents, former progressive student leaders, and activists who want to be a voice for concerned parents in the fees debate.

HEParD national chairperson Irvin Phenyane called on MPs to convene a special, emergency sitting on the matter to give clear direction and support for a peaceful resolution.

"Our children feel they are not being heard. This issue is beyond fees and is a political problem requiring effective political leadership," he said.

"Parliament needs to assume the attitude of a national crisis so that it can reach national consensus."

Phenyane said protesting students and university leaders should urgently sit down and find ways of reaching agreements on the principle of free education and completing the academic year.

Looming race battles

"We believe that there should be an immediate end to violent protests and that all the parties should be willing to create a climate of peace which will enable for resumption of talks, and to agree on the process and 'rules of engagement' to resolve internal issues, both on campuses and nationally.

"As parents, we would like to see the students and university management agree to facilitated talks or mediation as well as an independent mediator or facilitator to be appointed for this purpose."

Phenyane said the parties must agree on the reopening of all campuses that are closed, the removal of extra security guards from campuses and finalising plans for the rest of the academic year.

He warned the committee of looming race battles and wide legal class action against government and universities if the impasse continues.

The group, which is backed by various faith groups, ultimately wanted to see a peaceful, sustainable solution to the ongoing fees crisis, Phenyane said.

HEParD would also address the inter-ministerial task team on higher education soon, he added.

Read more on:    university fees  |  parliament

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