Thousands of prospective students queued overnight at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane ahead of the resumption on Monday of registration at the Capricorn Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college.
The college suspended registration for the 2018 academic year on Thursday after six people were injured in a stampede as students rushed to secure their places. Two more students were struck by a vehicle just outside the campus.
The number of prospective students seeking tertiary education has risen sharply across the country after the government announced in December it would provide free higher education for the poor.
The opposition Economic Freedom Fighters has also demanded that institutions of higher learning allow walk-in registrations for those who did not meet the deadline for online applications.
Following the stampede, Capricorn TVET college was then forced to move the registration process to Peter Mokaba Stadium in a bid to provide a bigger registration venue for students.
Anxious students flocked to the stadium late on Sunday to stake their places so they could be among in first in line on Monday.
Deputy Higher Education Minister Buti Manamela said his department would do everything it could to assist the process.
“I am aware of the long queues at Peter Mokaba Stadium and have asked the Principal to go and speak to them and allay their fears. There is no need to be in the queues overnight as all students will be allowed to apply for available spaces,” Manamela said in a statement.
“I am pleased at the demand for education by our youth, and excited that we are indeed making education fashionable,” he added, urging students to also apply at other colleges.
Manamela said the rising demand to study at VET colleges meant the government should invest in better information technology systems to ensure smoother registration.
He also urged political parties to exercise restraint in communicating their views on the issue, and not heighten tensions in an already volatile and emotional situation.
Manamela was set to visit the registration centre at Peter Mokaba to monitor the registration process.
– African News Agency (ANA)