Cabinet sympathises with frustrated students

2015-10-23 14:09
(Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

(Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

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Johannesburg - While tempers were rising outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria where students have delivered an ultimatum to President Jacob Zuma to come and speak to them, Cabinet said it felt sorry for the thousands of students across South Africa who cannot afford the high cost of tuition.

"Cabinet sympathises with the concerns of the students who find the cost for higher education too expensive and inaccessible for students coming from poor families," it said in a statement.

The protests started with students at the University of the Witwatersrand demonstrating on October 14 against fees being increased by 10.5% to account for rising costs and inflation.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande later revised this and proposed a 6% cap on university fee hikes for 2016.

The students have rejected the 6% fee hike and are calling for a 0% hike along with free education.

Reasonable measures

Academic activities at many of the universities across the country have since come to a standstill with students holding marches and protests.

The ministers had discussed the student protests extensively and Nzimande had informed them that he was in talks with the relevant stakeholders to find a solution, Cabinet said.

"Our Constitution provides that everyone has the right to basic education and further education, which the State, through reasonable measures, must make available and accessible."

The statement said that since 1994 government had made education a priority and had rolled out R9.5bn towards the National Student Fund Aid Scheme (NFSAS) which gives financial aid to some students.

A presidential task team has been established to look into the fee increases. The team is made up of student representatives, university councils and officials from the education department.

Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma, student leaders and the management teams of various universities are in a meeting at the Union Buildings where the fee increases are being discussed.

Zuma is expected to brief the nation on the outcomes of the meeting later on Friday.

Read more on:    blade nzimande  |  jacob zuma  |  protests  |  education  |  university fees

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