NO WAY TO STUDY

The Witness - - OPINION -

THE ruc­tions at var­i­ous uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges are a daily fea­ture of stu­dent life, and they are un­likely to abate any­time soon. Stu­dents can be re­lied on to demon­strate and make a noise. It is from them, and other young mem­bers of so­ci­ety, that the en­ergy comes to chal­lenge norms and de­mand a bet­ter so­ci­ety.

But these stu­dents are fight­ing for more im­me­di­ate is­sues: hav­ing food to eat and a place to sleep. This is scan­dalous. It is the val­i­da­tion of the push for free ed­u­ca­tion, and the proof of how in­eptly the mat­ter has been han­dled at ev­ery sin­gle level.

Last week, The Wit­ness re­ported on 30 stu­dents who had been kicked out of their res­i­dence be­cause they had not paid their rent for over a year. Not be­cause they are delin­quent, but be­cause their fund­ing has not come through.

What is not clear is whether the block­age was at the level of the Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) or at the in­sti­tu­tional level.

This week, DUT and uM­gun­gundlovu TVET op­er­a­tions were shut down by stu­dents com­plain­ing about ex­actly the same thing, that al­lowances due in Fe­bru­ary had not yet ar­rived or had only been paid out to a few stu­dents.

The al­lowances are meant to cover food, ac­com­mo­da­tion, books and trans­port. Stu­dents say that even if the money comes through, it does not stretch far enough. Fur­ther­more, debts are in­curred in the mean­time, ex­ac­er­bat­ing the al­ready acute dif­fi­culty that stu­dents find them­selves in. Many of these stu­dents do not have fam­ily close by who can bail them out. Most are poor and have no fall­back op­tions and no way of mo­bil­is­ing re­sources, ex­cept per­haps through loan sharks.

This is no way to study. It is no way to train fu­ture lead­ers and work­ers. These stu­dents should not be hav­ing to burn bar­ri­cades to get what has been promised them.

PHOTO: AP

Icons re­flect­ing the Amer­i­can West are on dis­play in the new James Mu­seum of Western and Wildlife Art in St Peters­burg, Florida (U.S.). The ex­hi­bi­tion in­cludes im­ages of cow­boys and wolves, and Na­tive Amer­i­can sil­ver-and-turquoise jew­ellery, and tells...

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