Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - "We hope for a realistic plan of making it possible for the poor and working class families to have access to higher education after the year 2017", say the Catholic Bishops of South Africa, after the Minister of Education BE Nzimande announced that universities and colleges should not increase their fees by no more than 8% in 2017. The Minister also said that there would be no increase for students with loans from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and that the government will subsidise those students from poor families.
In the statement, sent to Agenzia Fides, the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC) states that "whilst the interim measures by government provide no lasting solution to the funding model for our education system", the Bishops call for "special attention to be given to poor students who are unable or struggling to even pay for their fees presently", invoking the granting of government subsidies to the poor so that they can fully cover the payment of school fees.
The Bishops finally launched an appeal for calm and peaceful discussion: "We acknowledge that the interim measures by government will not be welcomed by everyone and call for open and honest dialogue amongst all stakeholders to find a way forward".
"We condemn the escalation of campus violence and vandalism which is destroying the assets invested to educate future leaders for the whole nation. The violence we are witnessing will bring more harm to our nation than good. We call for greater ethical leadership from all stakeholders, including those dealing with law and order", they conclude. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 28/09/2016)