Students Protesting Against Poor Funding of University Education in South Africa

South African students plan to shut 26 universities over government’s poor funding

*South African students move to shut their country’s 26 universities over demand for debt clearance and free registration this academic year, as the Treasury has cut budget for higher educational institutions

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

Subsequent to apparent poor funding of universities, a South African student movement plans to shut down the country’s 26 public universities until the government meets demands.

The protesting students’ demands include clearing debt and allowing free registration for the 2021 academic year, agency report said.

ConsumerConnect gathered that measure follows a weekend meeting of the South African Union of Students after protests on campuses, including the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg last week left a person dead.

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa

Students began demonstrations after being prevented from registering because they failed to secure state subsidies or were in arrears on their fees.

The student movement has called for debt of 13 billion rand ($874 million) to be cleared, the allocation of funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, or NSFAS, to new students and for laptops to be provided as universities have moved their academic programs online.

By midday Monday, March 15, the South African Union of Students had posted videos of protests on campuses around the country on its Twitter page @SAUS_2019, with the inscription: ‘NO RETREAT! NO SURRENDER!’.

Report indicates Finance Minister Tito Mboweni allocated 37.3 billion rand to NSFAS for 2021-22 in last month’s budget, that will only increase by 1.7% annually for the next three years, while inflation for post-school education is at 4.7%.

Funding for higher-education institutions was cut by 8 billion rand for the next three years as the Treasury trimmed the spending allocation for some parts of the government in an attempt to narrow the fiscal deficit and slow debt growth without increasing taxes.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande in a statement disclosed that the Department of Higher Education and Training is unable to clear all the debt of fee-paying students.

One of the legacies of apartheid, under which Black people were given inferior schooling by the state and prevented from entering certain professions, is unequal access to post-school training that persists along racial lines more than 25 years after the end of White-minority rule, report said.

Many young people see access to university as a way out of poverty in a country where 41.8 percent of those aged 15 to 34 were not employed or in education or training at the end 2020.

It is recalled that the South African students protested en masse in 2015 and 2016 to pressure the government into providing free tertiary education, sparking violent clashes with the Police.

Kindly Share This Story