Student Union Was Not Satisfied With Minister's Address

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South African Union of Students (SAUS) has said that the Department needs to deliver on their promises made to students and that vulnerable and missing middle students need more from them. The Union has said that more was expected from Nzimande's media briefing, but does applaud some decisions made. 

South African Union of Students (SAUS) wants the Minister to be faster and more efficient in delivering promises about gadgets. With the Minister announcing on 23 May that students will get devices but still not have completed that action has SAUS concerned on behalf of students.

SAUS NEC member, Lukhanyo Daweti, said "we are not entirely happy with the briefing by the Minister." The Minister said that issues surrounding data and devices will be sorted by 1 June, Maweti said, but now Nzimande has said that the Department needs a further three weeks to get the laptops.

The Minister said that he does not want to waste taxpayers money and will be delivering what he promised. SAUS has acknowledged this, however, Maweti said, "it was irresponsible of him to make that promise that by the 1st of June, those gadgets would have been in place".

Educational websites have been zero-rated. However, Lukhanyo has said that there are some students who do not have smartphones to access these zero-rated sites and that the Department hasn't issued a solid plan for students who are not able to take part in online learning and online assessments.

Lukhanyo also said that the Union wanted the Minister to "make a bold statement" about the missing middle about a linear approach to be taken to support them during the pandemic, even with data. 

The Union is however happy that Nzimande addressed the N+ rule and that poor and vulnerable students are being allowed to return to campuses. 

Another SAUS member, Palomino Jama, has stated that Student Representative Councils (SRC) should be involved in the decisions the Department makes.

Jama 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 forms part of the Ministerial Task Team that deals with the effects of Covid-19 on higher education and has participated in meetings with Nzimande since the beginning of the year. They aim to engage with the Department and Universities of South Africa about students who are negatively affected by Covid-19. 

SAUS says they agree that the academic year needs to be saved but says, "it does not have to be saved at the expense of other students".

 

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