'We need to transform and not destroy the system'

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande says SA's higher education system must be protected.

FILE: Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande, says South Africa's universities must be transformed not destroyed.

The minister delivered the opening remarks at a higher education stakeholder forum being held in Kempton Park today.

The meeting seeks to find solutions to the current disruptive and sometimes violent protests at campuses across the country.



Nzimande says the higher education system must be protected.

"It is by far the single largest university system on the continent and also the only one with consistently strong global reputation from a number of institutions. We need to transform and not destroy the system."

He warned against legitimate causes being hijacked.

"We're faced with a minority of students, who are determine to bring our higher education system to a halt, while the overwhelming majority of students are either in class or want nothing more than to be there."

At the same time, President Zuma says he called the meeting to try find solutions to the current disruptive and sometimes violent protests at campuses across the country.

"We run a risk a whole academic year being wasted if parents, students, university management and all stakeholders do not act now."

The president has warned the current crisis on campuses has the potential to destroy universities and solutions cannot come from government alone.

Zuma says finding a solution to the situation at universities will be a collaborative effort.

"Government cannot work alone to find solutions, universities also cannot find a solution working alone. We need to work together for the sake of the future as a country and nation."

Zuma says a lot is at stake with the threat that the academic year may not be completed.

Government says it's concerned that the ongoing disruptions at universities will affect student exams.

Zuma convened the forum to discuss way to restore calm to campuses and ensure the academic programme resumes.

University management, trade unions and various higher education organisations were also represented at the forum today.