The South Africa cabinet has warned that if the academic year is lost due to student protests over fee increases, serious consequences would take place in the country.
“If the academic year is lost, the universities and colleges do not reach a finality this year, almost a million matriculants will not be admitted into higher education in 2017,” Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe, said after a cabinet meeting.
The ripple effect is such that all students from first year to final year would be affected and ultimately the country’s economy as no new skilled graduates will enter the job market, he said while briefing reporters in Pretoria on the cabinet meeting.
A number of universities have suspended academic activities due to the protests, which have continued since late September when Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande gave the green light to universities to increase fees.
Some universities say they will suspend the current academic year if the protests continue.
“Cabinet wishes to reiterate its call for the country to support all efforts to save the 2016 academic program,” Radebe said.
These efforts led by the government through the Ministerial Task Team working with students, parents, universities and stakeholders are a demonstration of the collective commitment to find solutions to normalize the higher education sector, said the minister.
The government has received several proposals that have been put forward by various constituencies and stakeholders, Radebe said.
A technical process is underway to evaluate them and once the work is completed, options will be provided to address the current challenges, he added.