Like every thinking person in this country, we are relieved that the South African Further Education and Training Student Association (Safetsa) has called a truce – however fleeting this may prove to be – on the total shutdown on the 265 technical vocational education and training campuses across South Africa.
This agreement follows a meeting last week between Blade Nzimande, the Minister of Higher Education and Training, and Safetsa to address a veritable shopping list of complaints from the aggrieved students.
Safetsa general secretary Sibusiso Ntishibongo confirmed the easing of the previously fraught tensions between the students and educational authorities, which would have led to more than 22 000 students being denied access to facilities and the opportunity to learn skills to augment the workforce.
It is a far more rational approach than the escalation of often mindless violence which grew from the #FeesMustFall campaign on some of this country’s university campuses last year and, in some ways, signals a softening of government’s approach to upheavals within the educational sector and a more logical approach to confrontation.
Engaging in constructive conversation is always preferable to conflict, especially in the existing tinderbox circumstances underlying the problems in tertiary education. Hopefully, the truce lasts.