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Dr Blade Nzimande urged to resolve financial, student accommodation problems at SA universities

Nyakallo Tefu 

The Democratic Alliance has called on Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande to deal decisively with issues facing universities around South Africa following sporadic protest action in some campuses. 

The DA has also formally written to President Cyril Ramaphosa, urging him to compel Nzimande to take action and resolve the impasse at campuses.

The University of Witwatersrand is the latest tertiary institution which put a halt to academic activities this week, demanding the university to provide accommodation for over 200 students who have been left stranded, this after a video emerged of students sleeping at the institutions library. 

This happened while TVET students from Pietermaritzburg and Tshwane held demonstrations owing to the fact that the colleges are not paying out NFSAS funds. 

Just a few days ago, Nzimande, delivering his executive statement in Parliament, said it was all systems go for higher learning institutions in South Africa for the 2020 academic year.

DA’s interim leader John Steenhuisen said his party demanded the following:

  • That NSFAS expedite disbursements directly to students immediately as they missed their deadline which was 7 February;
  • TVETs are failing to disburse funds to students and therefore NSFAS should do this themselves;
  • The Minister should provide specific timelines of when poor students will have their historic debt cleared;
  • To urgently engage the Departments of Public Works and Human Settlements to allocate unused buildings for student accommodation;
  • Allowances for students at university and TVET Colleges needs to be standardized, because accommodation and food are just as expensive for both students who are in TVET Colleges or Universities;
  • The Minister has to engage Fort Hare management to prevent the eviction of students and find a way to allow for the academic program to continue.

“We urge the Minister to remember his primary responsibility, which is to ensure that every South African has fair access to higher education in a conducive and safe environment”, said Steenhuisen.

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