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Archbishop Makgoba: Students’ rights to attend classes must be protected

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba says he’s deeply pained by the instability at SA’s higher education institutions.

FILE: Students protest at Parliament in Cape Town for free education on 22 September 2016. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Archbishop Thabo Makgoba says students' rights to peacefully continue with their academic programme must be protected as much as the rights of others to peacefully protest.

Makgoba was reacting to several days of protests, shut downs and sporadic violence at some of the country's universities, where students have been protesting about fees for 2017.

Demonstrations erupted earlier this week shortly after Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced that tuition fee hikes will be left to individual varsities.

The head of the Anglican church says he is deeply pained by the instability at South Africa's higher education institutions.

In a statement released today, Archbishop Makgoba who's the chancellor of the University of the Western Cape, says the burning of schools, libraries, and institutions of higher learning has set the nation back.

Makgoba says while students' rights to peaceful protest must be respected, students' right to learn in a conducive and enabling environment also needs to be protected.

He has called for the Fees Commission, the Department of Higher Education and Treasury to be given space to craft a plan for a new funding model for tertiary education for 2017, that will assist the poor and the so-called "missing middle".

He says universities, colleges and schools are important heritage sites for communities.

Violence and destructive actions, he adds, could deepen inequality and poverty and will not bring about the desired solutions.

Meanwhile, a public meeting is scheduled to begin in Forest Town in Johannesburg today to discuss the current funding crisis at tertiary institutions.

It's been called by academics from the University of Johannesburg and Wits University.

The meeting is intended to offer parents, teachers, students, workers and residents the opportunity to talk about issues related to the crisis.

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