NTEU welcomes the decision by President Zuma to provide a platform for free higher education for the poor and academically deserving. However, we remain concerned by the lack of clarity around its implementation and the continued elusive responses by cabinet members when questioned on the details of the President’s strategy.
Beyond the need for a comprehensive and feasible way forward other concerns have risen as high priorities.
“We may have normalised the notion that protests can spark up at any given moment, but we must realise the emotional and psychological toll this has taken on staff, said General Secretary, Grant Abbott. “Add to this the looming threat of retrenchments and the realities of already trimmed resources, a volatile work environment becomes almost unbearable. We believe that free higher education for the poor and academically deserving is the right decision, but for our country to reap the full benefits we must adequately support those staff educating and shaping our students. A university works because of the people who work there, both support and academic staff “.
In response to the President’s announcement Higher Education Minister, Hlengiwe Mkhize, eluded that Unions have been consulted on the process. Although NTEU cannot confirm to what extent these consultations took place or which unions the Minister was referring to an urgent request to meet around the details of the President’s plan has been sent to her office.
NTEU President, Dimakatso Peo, expressed that this is a national matter of urgency, “It is critical for our institutions, students and our country that the implementation and budget plan be confirmed very soon. Who’s paying for this, how is it going to be done and where is the money coming from? We must stop playing politics with our children’s future”.
For more on the impacts of the #Feescrisis see Union wants urgent answers
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NTEU is a politically non-aligned trade union organizing exclusively in the Higher Education sector and is aligned to FEDUSA, the largest politically non-aligned trade union federation in South Africa.