President Jacob Zuma has established a ministerial task team that intends the Minister of Higher Education and Training to normalise the situation at higher education institutions across South Africa.
The task team comprises the following:
* The Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe as Convenor;
* Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Bonginkosi “Blade” Nzimande;
* Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor
* Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Advocate Michael Masutha;
* Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko;
* Minister of State Security, David Mahlobo;
* Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula; and
* Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba.
“We urge all stakeholders including students, university management, parents and religious leaders to co-operate with the ministerial task team to ensure that the future of our children is not jeopardised,” says President Zuma.
Meanwhile, Belinda Bozzoli, Shadow Minister of Higher Education and Training, questions why Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, hasn’t been named to the task team.
“It is equally questionable as to why the President chose to include the Ministers of Home Affairs and Defence. It is clear that the President and the ANC are out of touch with the crisis engulfing our Higher Education sector,” she says.
“At the heart of the crisis is the chronic under-funding of higher education over the last decade. This has resulted in universities being forced to rely on student fees as a major source of income, making it more difficult for poor students to access tertiary education.”
Bozzoli believes that, if government does not provide more funding for higher education, through increased state subsidies to universities, and more support for NSFAS, fee increases will continue in the future, as will the cyclical unrest associated with it.
“If President Zuma was really serious about finding a long-term solution to this, he would have wanted his best-minds around the table, including his Minister of Finance. This is especially the case when any funding solution will have to go through the budget process, which Minister Gordhan oversees.”