JOHANNESBURG: The South African Council of Churches
(SACC) on Tuesday convened a consultative meeting with the student body
representatives of the various institutions of higher education from
around the country. The meetings’ objective was to engage the student
bodies in order to fully understand the challenges faced by their
members in the new academic year. The role of the SACC is to broker
engagement with the various stakeholders to explore workable solutions
on the matter.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the student bodies
from Stellenbosh University; Walter Sisulu University; North-West
University; University of Limpopo; University of Johannesburg; and the
Cape Peninsula University of Technology. The invitation to join the
meeting was extended to all SRC representatives from all the
universities in South Africa, with an offer extended to assist with
travel or accommodation, where resources were limited.
Chaired by President of the SACC, Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa, the church
emphasized that in order to make intelligent decisions based on facts,
there was a need for transparent dialogue with the students. “Today’s
session is a listening exercise. We have been ignorant to the full
spectrum of challenges faced by the students; however we commit to
putting our influence behind the plight to ensure equitable access to
education in our country,” said Siwa.
The student representatives were given an opportunity to share their
challenges, and spoke with great passion about their experiences
socially and academically, mostly based on their economic backgrounds:
The general consensus from the students was that a long term solution
needs to be found in addressing the issue of social and economic
exclusion, which they believe to be no fees for tertiary education.
“The church is of the opinion that all stakeholders can work
strategically towards a resolution that will allow the universities to
remain open, while the broader issues are resolved,” Siwa said