Students now want curriculum change

2016-10-07 10:44
UKZN Pietermaritzburg students standing outside lecture venues after classes were disrupted following student recently.

UKZN Pietermaritzburg students standing outside lecture venues after classes were disrupted following student recently. (File)

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The UKZN Pietermaritzburg campus fees protest has taken another turn: on top of demanding free tertiary education, the students are now calling for wholesale changes to the university curriculum and the higher education system as a whole.

Speaking at a discussion group on fees organised by the Mzala Nxumalo Centre on Thursday, the students said free education alone would not help their quest to transform higher education.

Sasco uMgungundlovu chairperson Siyabonga Ngubane also suggested a change in the country’s judicial system.

“The system is not fair to us. Before we can even talk about fees must fall, already there is a court interdict saying we must not talk about it.

“The judiciary is not fair to us and we need the whole system to fall,” he said.

Ngubane said the government could afford to fund free education.

“After every election there are new ministers so that comrades can benefit. There is also a minister for women now.

“When we were growing up, there was a minister of education and sport, but now there is a minister of education, and there is a minister of sport so that more people can benefit.

“What is the use of having a minister, deputy minister, MEC, head of department and director-general? Are you not repeating the same thing so that more people can benefit?”

Ngubane said the curriculum being taught at tertiary institutions was no longer relevant.

“They are still teaching us about the French revolution. We need change so that we can have degrees that are relevant to society,” he said.

SRC president Siphelele Nguse said the current system was creating a “society of poverty”.

“Free education will enable us to prosper. A normal black child that studied through NSFAS will have a debt of around R300 000 by the time they finish studying, not counting the interest that NSFAS will add.

“It is us, the black students, who understand the material conditions,” he said.

Fees Must Fall activist Xola Mehlomakhulu said their main aim was to “cripple the system that survives on injustices”.

He said the movement was not against the government of the day, but wants free education.

“There have been all sorts of allegations, with some suggesting a third force is behind this. We have people tapping our phones; it is crazy.”

Sasco Pietermaritzburg chairperson Star Radebe said the government was applying apartheid tactics in dealing with the students’ demands.

“We know that there is political pressure to detain those who are protesting. That is an apartheid tactic.

“How do you respond to a violent system? I am not justifying violence, but how does one respond to a violent system?”

Meanwhile, lecturer Clint le Bruyns said academic staff would demonstrate at lunch today at the corner of Alan Paton Avenue and Milner Road in support of the students’ call for free education.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  student protests

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