Reopen varisities, PE business chamber tells students

2016-10-06 21:01
Students at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University campus in Port Elizabeth during the  #OpenNMMU protest. (Derick Spies, News24)

Students at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University campus in Port Elizabeth during the #OpenNMMU protest. (Derick Spies, News24)

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Port Elizabeth – More than 1 000 NMMU students marched to the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber on Thursday to ask businesses to help poor students.

Businesses had a responsibility to educate citizens and help redress the country’s wealth imbalances, student leader Nathi Dwayi told the crowd outside the chamber’s office in Norvic Drive.

“We believe it is unjust if we allow the system to continue excluding students in higher institutions of learning on the basis that the person does not have capacity to pay,” he said.

Public order police escorted students along their 7km walk, which began at the Vuyisile Mini square in front of the City Hall. The march was peaceful and students sang and danced as they made their way through the streets.

Chamber CEO, Kevin Hustler, acknowledged the Fees Must Fall student movement’s right to protest.

“We agree that there are fundamental challenges in the tertiary education system in South Africa, which needs to be considered seriously and addressed by the institutions as well as government,” he told the crowd.

He said shutting down universities was not helping the students’ cause. Not being able to complete the 2016 academic year would negatively affect a generation of students.

“The closing of tertiary educational institutions will also have vast financial implications, not only on the students, their families and the institutions, but also on the broader economy of the country,” he said.

Hustler urged students involved in protests for free tertiary education to commit to the reopening of the university so academic work could continue.

“Although the NMMU students have shown discipline in their march, we implore them to continue to distance themselves from intimidation, violence and destruction of infrastructure as this does not do their cause any justice, undermines their credibility and is doing more harm to our institutions and the community at large.”

Hustler said Nelson Mandela Bay businesses had contributed significantly to local academic institutions, particularly with research and development partnerships, and through bursaries and internships.


Read more on:    nmmu  |  university protests  |  university fees

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