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Sat Oct 01 10:42:56 SAST 2016

Parliamentary committee laments lost academic term

TMG Digital | 26 February, 2016 10:39
University students march on the Union Buildings on October 23 as part of a nationwide protest against a tuition fee increase and to demand that tertiary education be free. Police fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd
Image by: THULANI MBELE

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Higher Education called “on churches to pray for stability and safety” and “parents to engage learners about their future” following the “latest spate of violence at universities”.

Chairperson Yvonne Phosa Phosa said it condemned “the acts of vandalism and damage to property at universities”‚ adding that it “compromises safety of students as well as important records”.

Phosa lamented the lost learning time: “The academic year is supposed to be in full swing‚ yet universities are bogged down by governance and operational issues.

“It’s almost at the end of the first term but the environment is not conducive for learning in many of our universities‚ and that is of concern.

“It is unfortunate that this is happening when government has undertaken to increase access to tertiary education for poor and students who cannot afford.

Most recently‚ operations at North West University’s Mafikeng campus were suspended indefinitely after a computer lab and a study centre were burnt‚ a week after the office of University of Cape Town vice-chancellor Dr Max Price’s “was petrol-bombed”.

“The future is not about throwing petrol bombs or burning down university property‚ but using universities constructively in empowering students and subsequently the nation‚” Phosa said.

Phosa said it “appeared as though some political formations were manipulating the violence for political gains”.

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