14 January 2016

South Africa: Student Leaders Walk Out of Meeting With Nzimande

Photo: The Daily Vox
University of Cape Town (UCT) Students watch as protesters march to different parts of the campus during a university shut down (file photo).

Student leaders walked out of a meeting with Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande in Johannesburg on Thursday.

It was unclear whether the group had willingly left the venue or had been thrown out.

They had spent hours locked in a meeting with Nzimande where they had planned to render their demands.

The group did not want to immediately address the media.

They stood huddled in a group a short distance away where they held a discussion.

Earlier, the students had walked into the meeting claiming they wanted several issues clarified before the start of the academic year.

Despite disruptions at universities during scheduled registration at various universities this week, student leaders said it was not their intention to make institutions ungovernable.

They demanded, among other things, an end to financial exclusion, free registration, and a clearance of historical debt.

The students explained that this was the core of the Fees Must Fall movement. They were calling on all students who had qualified academically but who did not have funds for their studies, to be admitted to varsities.

#AccessMustRise

They also wanted all National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) issues to be addressed.

One of the student leaders, Busisiwe Mashiqa said, "[The] public must understand that NSFAS can never be a substitute for free education."

She also called for transparency into their system and a clearer understanding of how the funds were distributed to each student.

The students had not abandoned their initial #FeesMustFall campaign but instead elevated it to #AccessMustRise.

They said they would on Thursday be demanding that the minister give them a timeline on when free education will be implemented.

Another issue of concern for the students was student residences.

Student leaders called for quality student accommodation at all universities.

In addition, they stated their plight was not only for South African students but also for international students.

The students were also calling for the minister to address the issues of language barriers at some universities which they claimed hampered some students from progressing in certain institutions.

Source: News24

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