The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande was expected to launch the National Civic Education and Health Skills Programme, at Tshwane North TVET College.
The programme will prepare students for the job market, by exposing them to graduate attributes most sought after by employers. The programme is accredited at NQF level 5 making it the first civic education program to achieve recognition in Africa.
The launch was disrupted by students from various institutions, forcefully seeking to speak to the Minister because they have been calling Dr Blade to intervene and address their NSFAS problems. The University of Pretoria, Tshwane University of Technology, and North West University Senior Representative Council were there.
“We reject direct payments of NSFAS because companies only started granting allowances last year. They are not Financially Registered Service Providers, and there is no physical track record of whether the companies can do the job or not” said Yikumba Andreas, NWU SRC President.
The picket was joined by students from nearby schools. However, Tshwane North TVET College’s forum of SRCs from other universities was forced out by police and security.
Dr. Blade Nzimande was puzzled why students interfered with his launch. Because NSFAS listens to students, and it has met with TVET colleges leadership and the South African Union of Students. This is to discuss the proposed direct payment system.
“Students have the right to protest and I have no problem with that. But I know for a fact that NSFAS is engaging with them, and there has been an agreement,” said Dr Blade. He furthered by saying that NSFAS has assigned people to attend to various institutions to help but they are intimidated. This shows that students protest for political gain.
Forum representing SRC from various institutions promises not to rest until their issues are solved to their satisfaction. The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation diverts students’ issues to NSFAS, not him.
“It is disappointing that the minister says our protest is a political agenda. Hunger and poverty of students are never political, but we will mobilize for their cause” concluded TUT SRC President, Keamogetswe Masike.