National 15.9.2016 05:33 am

Sadtu throws its weight behind calls for free tertiary education

FILE PICTURE: Students of various institutions and organisations sing and dance in the streets of Pretoria on 2 March 2015 during their protest march to the department of higher education offices to demand outstanding fees be scrapped. Picture: Christine Vermooten

FILE PICTURE: Students of various institutions and organisations sing and dance in the streets of Pretoria on 2 March 2015 during their protest march to the department of higher education offices to demand outstanding fees be scrapped. Picture: Christine Vermooten

Several higher learning institutions say they will reject fee increases next year.

The country’s biggest teacher union, the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), says it also supports calls for free tertiary education.

Previously, the National Teachers’ Union resolved at its policy conference in Ulundi, KwaZulu-Natal, to support calls for free education. Students from various institutions of higher learning have made it clear they will reject any fee increases next year – they want free tertiary education.

However, when contacted by The Citizen yesterday, Sadtu’s deputy general secretary, Nkosana Dolopi, said the call for free education had been previously raised by the union.

“In fact, during the wage negotiations in 2014, one of the demands Sadtu had was for children of civil servants all be given bursaries,” he said. “The fact of the matter is teachers are not getting enough money every month and it is also extremely difficult for them to get loan approvals as they are constantly told they do not qualify.”

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He said some teachers went as far as resigning so they could use their pension money to either pay off debt, buy houses or pay for their children to further their studies at institutions of higher learning.

Dolopi said there should not be any announcement of fee increases while discussions around the feasibility of free education were ongoing.

Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande delivers an address during the launch of the new university to be known as Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in Ga-Rankuwa, Pretoria. (Photo: GCIS)

Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande delivers an address during the launch of the new university to be known as Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in Ga-Rankuwa, Pretoria. (Photo: GCIS)

“Let’s wait for the discussions to be completed first,” he said. “However, we as Sadtu also want to stress the point that free education should only be for poor students and not for those coming from rich people.”

Spokesperson for the department of higher education and training, Busiswa Gqangeni, said Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande was set to make an announcement on whether there would be a fee increase before the end of this month.

“The announcement will be made soon,” she added. President for the SA Union of Students, Avela Mjajubana, said they were busy consulting stakeholders. “We have already met with the ministry last week,” he said.

“We are also preparing a march to the private sector because in the fight for free education, we can’t be looking at government only, the private sector should also play a role.”

– stevent@citizen.co.za

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