Stop protesting and go back to class, PYA tells students

Students from DUT, FET and UKZN march to the legislature to protest against fee increments.
Students from DUT, FET and UKZN march to the legislature to protest against fee increments.
Ian Carbutt

Johannesburg - The Progressive Youth Alliance wants students to stop protesting, return to class and wait for a commission of inquiry appointed by President Jacob Zuma to come up with an outline plan on how government plans to meet their demand for free higher education.

This announcement was made on Thursday by leaders of the ANC Youth League, the SA Students Congress and the Young Communist League.

They called for an end to the protests, which had prevented first-years from registering at the University of Witwatersrand, the University of Pretoria and the University of Johannesburg earlier in the week. The protests were carried out allegedly by members of the #FeesMustFall movement.

"The PYA and the student body condemn these acts that undermine the legitimacy of the students' campaigns," it said in a statement.

It called on those who did not write their exams last year, to be allowed to write, and for those who needed to register to be allowed to do so.

"Students can no longer delay their studies... We will regroup ten months into the year, when the report on free higher education has been released to consider its contents," it said.

Zuma appointed a commission of inquiry to look into the feasibility of funding free higher education in the country. The commission would be chaired by Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Jonathan Heher.

The commission was given eight months to compile a report, and was expected to submit its final report to Zuma no later than two months after completing its work.

The PYA said it was aware that free education was the ultimate goal and said it would keep a close eye on government to ensure that it implemented this.

It also, however, pointed out that such a demand would not be met overnight.

The PYA urged students to be patient and await the outcomes of a commission.

"It will be ill-conceived and naïve to not go to class demanding free education, without giving government time to come with modalities on how this demand will be met."

The PYA said it was hopeful that by 2019, free higher education would be available to students from needy and poor backgrounds.

"All those who share our genuine aspiration for free education should similarly prepare and submit their inputs to the commission," it said.

"There is a time for mass action with its attendant hashtags plus sound bites, but there is also time for sensible substantial input on what the campaign for free education is about."

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