Thuli Madonsela urges Ramaphosa and Nzimande to reverse order for Unisa to deregister 20,000 students
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has pleaded with President Cyril Ramaphosa and higher education minister Blade Nzimande to withdraw the order that the University of SA (Unisa) should reduce its number of first-time students this year by 20,000.
Madonsela’s plea comes after Nzimande, last month ordered Unisa to reduce its intake of first-time students, saying it had over-enrolled by about 20,000 last year.
Madonsela said the move to deregister students could lead to disruptions by “angry students”.
“Please withdraw the order to Unisa to deregister 20,000 first-year students this year. As unemployment and poverty explode, we do not want angry young people seething over stolen dreams,” said Madonsela.
Madonsela’s ThuMa Foundation echoed her request, saying, “27 years into democracy, not enough universities have been built or allowed. Access to Unisa is important for social justice”.
@ThumaFoundation founder says please #OpenTheDoorsOfLearning to young people #DearPresident @CyrilRamaphosa and Min @BladeNzimandeMP. We agree.27 years into democracy not enough universities have been built or allowed. Access to Unisa is NB for #SocialJustice #CapitalizeTheYouth https://t.co/MTXl2TRlbD— ThuMa Foundation (@ThumaFoundation) March 2, 2021
Unisa initially had an intake of 57,857 first-time students for this year, but this has been culled to 37,857.
According to Nzimande, part of the reason for the call was that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) would not be able to meet the demand for payouts for first time students.
“This over-enrolment will have a significant impact on the sustainability of NSFAS and the higher education sector as a whole,” he said.
Nzimande said the university was warned about over-enrolling before.
“When Unisa over-enrolled in 2018, the university was warned it must adhere to its enrolment planning target and that it would be penalised for the over-enrolment,” he said.
Former EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee and the UDM slammed Nzimande for the move, saying he was the “antithesis of everything the late politician Chris Hani fought and lived for”.
“All professors from other African countries teaching at the University of Cape Town, Wits University, the University of Pretoria and University of KwaZulu-Natal would tell you they are products of over-enrolment by 500%. They are the best in the world and even the First World universities need them,” said Gardee.
“Minister Nzimande, instead of bulldozing and being a dictator who lacks substance, should be channelling funds and resources to support Unisa in their effort to accommodate more students,” said the UDM.
On social media, many prayed that Madonsela’s plea does not fall on deaf ears and that the order is reversed.
Here are some of the reactions:
This is a very good message from yourself.— JM (@JoyMulalo) March 2, 2021
A just call. You have my support for this type of causes💪🏾💪🏾
I wish they can act on that it is so nice to hear that Prof❤️❤️❤️😘😘— Lehlohonolo Rasogo (@Hloni_Rasogo) March 2, 2021
No child should be denied education. This call has my support. I hope the president and minister Blade will hear this message and the cries of all student deserving a second chance to study and a dream.— Sam Shabane (@Sam_Shabane_) March 2, 2021
Well said, Professor. This could potentially impact their dreams. The ever exacerbating unemployment scourge is emotionally and physically frustrating. Surely, the president could convince the minister and parties responsible to accordingly authorize those 20k UNISA applicants.— Lekganyane J.K (DPhil) candidate (@lekganyanejk) March 2, 2021
Coming from a highly regarded upright member of our society President Ramaphosa and minister Nzimande must heed this advice. Once more Prof thank you for freeing our country from the clutches of the Gupta family and their corrupt and unpatriotic enablers.— Kleva Blek (@tendani1yahooc1) March 2, 2021