I will not be excluded - blind UKZN student marches against fee increase

2016-09-20 15:52
Blind UKZN student Sandile Madlala, right, with his friend Minenhle Dlamini, who helped guide him on the march. (Jeff Wicks, News24)

Blind UKZN student Sandile Madlala, right, with his friend Minenhle Dlamini, who helped guide him on the march. (Jeff Wicks, News24)

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Pietermaritzburg - Through the sweltering Pietermaritzburg heat, blind student Sandile Madlala stood at the front of a group numbering the hundreds that marched in protest over a prospective University of KwaZulu-Natal fee increase.

The students, roused by the chorus of struggle songs, amassed outside Pietermaritzburg's provincial legislature to demand free education.

This after the announcement by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande that tertiary institutions could hike their 2017 fees by up to 8% for those who could afford it. Students who qualify for NSFAS or whose families earn above the NSFAS threshold, but who are unable to support their children to access higher education, will experience no fee increase in 2017.

The social sciences student said with his disability he had always faced exclusion and would not stand and be excluded from having an education.

"To be realistic, the reason why I came out is because I want to demand free education. We cannot run away from the facts, we as black students have been excluded.

"This is something that cannot stand, we cannot be financially excluded," he said.

Historical debt

Student leaders delivered their unequivocal "no" in the form of a memorandum which laid out their demands.

They rejected the proposed fee increase and also refused to recognise the Commission on Higher Education which is investigating the feasibility of free higher education.

They also called for the university and the state to "find means" to write off all historical student debt.

Speaking at the handover of the memorandum, EFF student command leader Bonginkosi Khanyile threatened that this would be the last time they stood outside the gates of the legislature.

"The next time we come here we are going to come inside and occupy this legislature. Politicians have all failed us, they only know how to come here, eat their breakfast and lunch and then leave. When we go inside I am going to be the Speaker," he said.

Read more on:    ukzn  |  pietermaritzburg  |  university fees  |  university protests

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