We, the resilient delegates and participants to the first national governance Lekgotla of SASCO, gathered at Johannesburg; representing SRCs from TVET institutions and Universities from the length and breadth of our country and all provincial and regional structures of our glorious student congress movement ; gathered at the height of uncertainty and anxiety in the Post Schooling education sector, to seek lasting solutions and a direction to all South African students hereby declare the following:
That we appreciate and welcome the progressive government’s revolutionary advance of introducing a fee-free higher education, wholly subsidized by the government for students and working class off springs hailing from poor and working-class families with a combined household income of less than R350 000 per annum.
This is an advance which accommodates more than 90 percent of South African families. We, however do so, cognisant of the fact that, any revolutionary advance is midwife to the birth of new challenges which will continue to impregnate the system in general and the PSET sector in particular. so long as education remains a commodity these challenges will be visible.
We have gathered to be solution orientated and to not further problematize the sector. Ours is to take stock of advances made, analyse their impact, resolve historical and imminent challenges and craft a way forward which will better prepare us for battles which lie ahead.
We recommit ourselves to the fight for student unity for democracy in education. This is a fight which starts with the battle against all forms of exclusion in the sector; especially those exclusions directed against the revolutionary class. We have gathered in order to further consolidate the unity of the people’s camp for the attainment of a completely free -decommodified education in South Africa.
Understanding that we have been consciously charged with the revolutionary duty and bestowed with an ideological obligation of carrying the hopes and aspirations of all students studying in our country; we thus place these urgent tasks ahead of us:
- To mount pressure on the private sector and other strategic sectors of our country to contribute towards the provision of free education in our country through fundraising campaigns and campaigns which will ideologically liberate the private sector from its profit maximization inspired participation in higher education.
- To continue lobbying government, the private sector and universities, and colleges for the scrapping of historic debt. This, in turn, will ensure that there are no academic and financial blocks. Through this intervention, we will extend the intervention to those returning students falling between the R122 thousand to R350 000 threshold which there is no certainty about their cases.
- We commit ourselves to fighting and exposing corruption in the TVET sector because it has the potential of undermining the progressive gains registered in the sector and potential gains. This is the first step towards ensuring that true transformation takes place in the sector.
- We will be working towards an inclusive student accommodation crisis committee which will ensure that Universities and colleges build more residences, municipalities are engaged, human settlements are engaged and the DHET. This is aimed at ensuring sufficient student accommodation facilities through the establishment of student villages, erection of new residences, regularization of pricing by private providers and an exploration of private/public partnerships for unused buildings in and around University/college precincts.
- we recommit ourselves to the overall war for the transformation of higher education using all strategic sites of struggle including councils, institutional forums and governance structures in general. This we will achieve through formulating lasting relations with strategic government departments and businesses.
- We will govern as a campaigning organization in order to ensure that we maintain governance where we govern and reclaim lost ground. This will include regular contact with the constituency and the strengthening of progressive relations.
- Our deployees will respect the principles of mandate and accountability in that it is the students which will guide all our decisions and campaigns starting with a student-centered right to learn campaign.
- SASCO will work tirelessly for all deserving students to be in the system with the requisite support systems central to our campaign.
As an organization, we celebrate our immediate victories including the persuasion of most universities and colleges to extend application and registration deadlines. This includes the extension of the NSFAS bursary application deadlines. We welcome the department’s commitment to review cases of students suspended and expelled for activities related to the free education campaign because our belief is that those students deserve to benefit from the fruits of their sacrifices. We will be compiling a database of all unused buildings for purposes of student accommodation and a database of all student activists which were harshly treated during the fees must fall campaign for a general amnesty.
We commit ourselves to implementing all our resolutions without fear, employing all the necessary tactics. We go back to our campuses with a high spirit, a renewed commitment, and an uncompromising resolve to widen the gates of access to higher education.
So long as the philosophy of higher education remains chained by market fundamentalism and exclusionary measures, SASCO will strive, so long as the revolutionary class remains underrepresented in input and throughput data, we say Aluta Continua!
As the Lekgotla, we so declare!
Issued on behalf of the NEC,
Secretary-General- South African Students’ Congress
073 763 9099