Stu­dents’ fees protests turn vi­o­lent

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

COUN­TRY­WIDE protests de­mand­ing free ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion in South Africa en­tered a third week as po­lice fired stun grenades and ar­rested 31 stu­dents at Jo­han­nes­burg’s Univer­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand.

Demon­stra­tions since last year over the cost of univer­sity ed­u­ca­tion — pro­hib­i­tive for many black stu­dents — have high­lighted frus­tra­tion at the in­equal­i­ties that per­sist more than two decades af­ter the 1994 end of white mi­nor­ity rule.

The cur­rent protests were trig­gered by a gov­ern­ment rec­om­men­da­tion that 2017 tu­ition fee in­crease be capped at eight per­cent — above South Africa’s cur­rent in­fla­tion rate of six per­cent.

Crit­ics have said the in­crease would fur­ther dis­ad­van­tage black stu­dents al­ready un­der-rep­re­sented.

Sev­eral stu­dents hurled rocks at the main build­ing of the univer­sity known as “Wits” af­ter they were pre­vented from en­ter­ing by pri­vate se­cu­rity guards who re­tal­i­ated by throw­ing rocks back at the stu­dents.

Weeks of vi­o­lent demon­stra­tions last year over univer­sity costs forced Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma to rule out fee raises for 2016 but univer­sity au­thor­i­ties have warned that an­other freeze for this year could dam­age their aca­demic pro­grams.

Ear­lier this month, 32 stu­dents were ar­rested af­ter ar­son­ists torched a law li­brary at South Africa’s Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Natal fol­low­ing days of protests by stu­dents over the cost of tu­ition. — AFP

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