Student Union Points Finger At Department For Education Divide


The South African Union of Students is speaking up against the two-tier education system that has come as a result of the Department's handling of Covid-19. Many differences were seen in how institutions were able to handle the move to online learning as some students have still not been provided with learning materials, data and devices to make online learning possible.

The South African Union of Students (SAUS) has said that a two-tier South African Higher Education system is now being seen and that they will not stand for it. This two-tier system is seen in the way institutions have been able to support their students. Disadvantaged institutions do not have the same resources and training thatt advantaged institutions have to help students during this time.

In June, Careers Portal reported that Palomino Jama, a SAUS member, has a fear that with the current state of Higher Education, a two-tier higher education sector will be created. One which sees wealthier institutions doing one thing and the other side being poorer institutions doing another and said that while historically white institutions continued with their academic programmes in April, others only started on 1 June.

SAUS has said that this two-tier system is shown by looking at the "growing challenges presented by the Covid-19 global pandemic exacerbated by the ineffective governance of the Higher Education sector as a whole".

There seems to be two different pictures being painted when it comes to higher education right now. One is of advantaged institutions who were able to finish their first semester through online learning and started the second semester from 3 August.

Then you get that of historically black and disadvantaged Universities who have not been taking part in an online learning programme such as UFH, WSU, MUT and UNIZULU, said SAUS. TUT and VUT are not able to provide sustainable teaching and learning either as well as the delivery of learning materials. This, SAUS says, is "bringing the academic enterprise to a complete comprise and looming collapse".

The student union has said that these challenges are showing the differences between the Universities and shows "the historical patterns of inequality and exclusion shaping South Africa’s Higher Education development" and they therefore want to look into the issues in administration and the management of resources which contribute to these inequalities. 

In their statement, they also said that the Ministerial Task Team appointed were not having their weekly meetings for almost two months now.

They also called Universities South Africa into question and said that they have a "absence of clear sound leadership".

SAUS has said that they have wrote to Minister Nzzimande to have an urgent meeting to speak about the challenges students face and to restore unity for the 2020 academic year with everyones best interests at the centre. Covid-19 regulations have not made it easy for the union to engage in this meeting and continue operations as they normally would.


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