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Giving Compass' Take:
• There has been a wave of student protests in South Africa since the semester started because of the lack of financial support for students in higher education.
• How educators help prevent violence and promote more peaceful protests? What opportunities are there for donors to contribute?
• Here are six African youth activists you should know.
South African universities have become a hotbed of violent confrontation between students and management in recent years. The wave of protests and demonstrations has gained force particularly since 2015, when students embarked on the nationwide Fees Must Fall protests.
Whether it’s at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits), Durban University of Technology (DUT), Rhodes University, the University of Cape Town, the University of Limpopo or others, the issues are always the same: higher education is too expensive considering that poverty is on the rise; students with outstanding fees aren’t allowed to register or graduate; and services like accommodation and walk-in registrations are inadequately planned for.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal suspended academic programmes on Monday last week after a vehicle was set on fire during a strike, and in Gauteng, Wits students went on a hunger strike on Tuesday over financial exclusion and accommodation. The university cancelled classes two days later.
Back in 2017, then president Jacob Zuma announced that the government would provide free higher education to students from households with a combined annual income of up to R350,000 (about US$25,650) starting in 2018.
President Cyril Ramaphosa committed to meeting this objective in his first state of the nation address (SONA) in 2018, saying: “Starting this year, free higher education and training will be available to first year students from households with a gross combined annual income of up to R350,000.”
“Government will continue to invest in expanding access to quality basic education and improving the outcomes of our public schools,” he added.
Free education is financed by National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), which provides bursaries and low-interest loans.
However, like many public institutions in South Africa, the NSFAS is plagued by issues that include poor administration and incorrect transfer of funds.
As a result, applications for financial aid are sometimes suspended or delayed, and some applications are simply rejected.
Read the full article about student protests in South Africa by Lerato Mogoatlhe at Global Citizen