The South African Students Congress (SASCO) welcomes all returning and prospective students into the 2021 academic year. The year begins on a continuation of what has since been characterised as our new normal, with the President announcing that the country be moved to alert level three with adjusted, yet stringent regulations issued by our government.
The student movement’s Right to Learn Campaign (RTLC) resumes on the 05th January 2021 across all institutions of higher learning in South Africa, with SASCO activists preparing to readily assist all returning and prospective students in campuses. SASCO’s Right to Learn Campaign is an initiative ran by SASCO annually to facilitate access to higher education for prospective students, particularly those who are part of the previously disadvantaged sector in our society. This campaign also sees SASCO assisting all returning students with matters ranging from student accommodation, financial and academic exclusion inter alia.
SASCO calls on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and all institutions of higher learning to re-open the application process for all prospective and returning students, this should be done given the daunting year which was sieged by a global pandemic in 2020 and its impact on ordinary South Africans including but not limited to Matriculants and their ability to access resources which would have allowed them to apply to their institutions of choice in the dates indicated in the previous year.
We call on institutions of Higher Education to adhere to Adjusted Level 3 regulations by having sufficient academic support staff on campus thus ensuring prospective students are granted an opportunity for thorough Academic Counselling prior the registration period so as to ensure a smooth start into their academic endeavour.
SASCO further calls on these parties to enhance and improve their online systems in order for the abovementioned application process to be conducted in a manner that seeks to enable students, protect them and also observe the regulations as per the state of national disaster and ensure that no student is left behind.
SASCO remains opposed to any proposed fee increase in all institutions of higher learning for the 2021 academic year, the student movement reiterates its call for a moratorium on all Fee Increments for this academic year and calls on institutions and government to find alternatives such as cutting the bloated salaries of Vice Chancellors, Ministers, and senior executives in the department of higher education and in tertiary institutions across the country.
The roll out of gadgets and data allowances is a myth similar to the government’s pronouncement on Free Education in 2017, with scores of students in 2021 awaiting these gadgets and data allowances since the previous year. This delay characterises this governments perpetual lip service and lack of delivery of services to citizens with the conclusion of the distributor for these gadgets only being concluded 3 weeks ago.
We wish to warn government that students have been waiting for a roll out of gadgets since July 2020 when government colluded with university Vice Chancellors to forcefully and hastily migrate to online and remote learning ignoring the concerns raised by students and deliberately leaving behind multitudes of students.
SASCO will no longer be tolerant of this governments lip service and inaction, as a result we wish to categorically state that in 2021 we will be exploring all available avenues including approaching our country’s courts of law to exercise our right to recourse but most importantly rights of all students to an education.
We commend the Matric class of 2020 along with their educators and all relevant stakeholders in remaining steadfast amidst the global pandemic and wish them well in the future. SASCO as their first friend on campuses is already awaiting them on every campus in the country.
SASCO will relentlessly pursue the struggle for the true realisation of Free Quality and Compulsory Education, as such we declare 2021 as the year of “Looking into the future – redefining the post schooling and training sector and the new student; Celebrating 30 years of unbroken service”.
Issued by SASCO NEC
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