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College students take to streets

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“We requested senior management to address students and the community within 24 hours after a memorandum was handed over on Wednesday

COURSES: Students during yesterdays protest action outside the Moremogolo Campus.

TECHNICAL and vocational education and training (TVET) students in Kimberley have not attended classes since Wednesday and have embarked on protest action, where roads leading to the Phatsimang and Moremogolo campuses were barricaded with rocks and burning tyres yesterday.

Students took to the streets in objection to the discontinuation of some classes, including all part-time, correspondence, repeaters exam only and supplementary exam classes as from next year.

Student representative council (SRC) deputy secretary general, Nompumelelo Nqumashe, said the protest action was sparked by the failure of management to meet their demands.

“We requested senior management to address students and the community within 24 hours after a memorandum was handed over on Wednesday.

“All campuses will be shut down on Friday (today) if our demands are not met.”

The SRC has demanded that the notice regarding the withdrawal of the courses, which appeared on the college website on September 5 as well as on social media and newspapers, be retracted with immediate effect.

“We demand a public apology to students, the SRC and members of the public regarding how this matter unfolded from senior management,” Nqumashe said.

The SRC also wants the same meal allowances to be paid out at Elliot House and Phatsimang Hostel.

“We demand a fixed policy where all allowances, including meal and travel allowances, must be paid on time. Should there be a financial delay, the maximum time given for such must be no longer than 24 hours. All allowances that are allocated to students should be paid simultaneously.

“Campus management, together with senior management, must start showing competence in the daily running of their offices,” she added.

A memorandum was also handed over by the South African Students Congress (Sasco) Phatsimang branch to management on Wednesday, stating that its strategy amounted to academic exclusion.

Sasco also urged management to find creative solutions to increase the pass rates and assist students who were failing.

Sasco regional co-ordinator, Kagisho Tawana, said that a mass meeting was held on Monday and Tuesday to discuss students’ grievances.

“Students are all unhappy that these courses will no longer be offered because it affects up to 60 percent of students. They will have no recourse should they fail or wish to attend part-time classes or repeat a course. They are failing to recognise the interests of students.”

He added that there had still not been any consultation from management.

Northern Cape Urban TVET college principal, Brian Madalane, stated that the protest action and barricading of roads was “an unfortunate incident”.

“We hope that we do not have a repeat of it. Any possible disruption of classes is viewed in a very serious light and is discouraged.”

Madalane pointed out that no disciplinary action would be taken by the college against students who were involved in the protest.

“However, law enforcement agencies will follow due processes if there is any contravention of the law. No permission was obtained for the protest, however, continuous engagements are taking place.”

He stated that some classes were disrupted since Wednesday.

“None of the campuses were shut down. Management is continuing to find an amicable solution with all stakeholders.”

Madalane indicated that students were busy with internal continuous assessment tasks that contributed towards their final exam mark.

“We plead with students to come to the table and engage with management to resolve the matter as soon as possible.”

He explained that the matter of the possible discontinuation of different modes of delivery was “currently under discussion” .

“A meeting has been scheduled with the SRC on September 17. This will be one of many future meetings aimed at finding an amicable solution. Management continues to hold the relationship with the SRC and all students in high esteem and will continue to foster positive relations.”

Madalane advised students to exercise restraint and not hamper teaching and learning.

“No incidents of violence were brought under the attention of management. A meeting was supposed to take place between management and the SRC, to give responses to their memorandum of demand, however, the SRC demanded that such a meeting take place with the masses.

“A response was e-mailed to the SRC president and secretary general and management will schedule further engagements with the SRC on the matter.”