The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and the Select Committee on Education and Recreation have commented on the need to save the current academic year and to persuade students to go back to class. The Committees also remain gravely concerned about the escalating acts of violence that have become a feature of the protests.
The Committees believe that criminal elements have crept into the protests, which pose the danger of undermining the legitimate concerns of students. The Committees condemn the burning of property and the vandalism witnessed in and around various campuses around the country. The burning of an occupied building at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology is an unacceptable undermining of the rule of law.
This matter is now a national crisis that needs collective efforts by all in society to work towards finding lasting solutions. To this end, the Committees welcome initiatives by many stakeholders, including the South African Council of Churches and Higher Education Parents Dialogue, which are working towards attainment of a peaceful environment conducive to teaching and learning.
The Committees call for restraint in dealing with the matter. Collective effort is necessary from every sector in the country if solutions are to be found to resolve this impasse. The Committee has taken the view that the time to point fingers has long passed and that a solution can only be found through collective effort.
The Committees have mandated both Chairpersons to engage with the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces to find a suitable role for the legislature in efforts to find lasting solutions to the current challenges.
The Joint Committees expressed confidence in Parliament, through the Offices of the Speaker and the Chairperson, to lead the multifaceted strategies with wisdom to save the 2016 academic year.
Issued by: Parliament of South Africa