The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] and the South African Students’ Congress [SASCO] convened a planning meeting over the weekend to consolidate a joint programme of action to be implemented by both organisations in the post-schooling system sector.
The planning meeting was convened as a result of the outcome of the bilateral meeting held on the 6th January 2018 which directed both organisations to convene a two –day session of the national and provincial leadership to broadly discuss issues of common interest and draw up a program of action in relation to the implementation of free education, institutional visits and the rollout of the Right to Learn Campaign.
The meeting deliberated extensively on issues that currently characterises the sector with a view of developing a single perspective to approach matters of common interest for both organisations. The meeting underscored the need to revive and strengthen student-worker alliance through improving relations between both SASCO and NEHAWU.
The meeting also discussed in detail issues of transformation in the post-schooling sector. The glaring reality is that most universities continue to be ivory towers instead of education centres preoccupied with building an educated citizenry. Education continues to be commodified with access only granted to those with deep pockets.
The meeting lamented the fact that in the last ten years higher education fees have been allowed to grow at a rate higher than inflation while the South African government has been spending only 0.71% of GDP on higher education and training. Meanwhile, the private sector as the biggest consumer of skills continues not to fund education through social responsibility initiatives.
The issue of curriculum overhaul still remains a contentious issue that needs to be tackled as a matter of urgency. The meeting also briefly discussed the Heher Commission report on the feasibility of free education in the country, insourcing, institutional autonomy, academic freedom, infrastructure development, and the recently announced free education by President Jacob Zuma in December 2017.
SASCO briefed the meeting on the ongoing Right to Learn Campaign that is currently taking place in all institutions of higher learning across the country. SASCO is happy with the gains of the campaign and in the coming weeks will redouble its efforts in ensuring that students receive assistance with issues related to applications and registration, accommodation and settling in. The campaign will run concurrently with the NEHAWU visits to all universities and TVET colleges as directed by its December 2017 Central Executive Committee [CEC] meeting. A report back rally on the Right to Learn campaign will be convened on the 2nd March 2018 at the Walter Sisulu University Umtata Campus.
NEHAWU briefed the meeting on the current strike actions that have been taking place in institutions of higher learning since the beginning of the year. SASCO reiterated its support for NEHAWU’s fight for a living wage and better working conditions. The meeting highlighted the negative effect of the intransigency of the management of universities in speedily resolving bargaining issues with workers before they impede both the application and registration processes thus delaying the beginning of the academic calendar. SASCO plans to plead with such institutions especially the Durban University of Technology and the Sol Plaatjie University to quickly resolve the impasse with workers.
Both organisations are committed to ensuring that they work hand in glove to bring betterment into the post-schooling sector. The issues that continues to engulf the post-schooling sector needs a more proactive approach especially issues of transformation. We believe that a conceited effort from both organisations will go a long way in championing the interest of both workers and the student community.
At the end of the meeting, a six (6) points plan was adopted as an outcome of this joint meeting of the two organisations which include the convening of a secretariat meeting of both organisations next week to further probe the issue of strengthening the student-worker alliance. Furthermore, a four aside meeting will also be convened next month to focus on issues of transformation especially issues related to curriculum, infrastructure development, etc. The four aside will also drive a research project on transformational issues in the post-schooling sector.
NEHAWU will convene urgent bargaining forums in all institutions of higher learning in March. In those forums, SASCO will also make presentations on how to strengthen the student-worker alliance. SASCO in its NEC meeting will make an assessment of the current realities in the post-schooling sector and the diagnostic report will be shared with NEHAWU after the NEC meeting.
Issued by both NEHAWU Secretariat and SASCO
Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968;
December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969;
Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer) at 082 455 2500 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or
Avela Mjajubana (SASCO President) at 078 253 8406;
Lwando Majiza (Secretary General) at 073 763 9099
Visit NEHAWU website: www.nehawu.org.za