Universities in South Africa close amid tuition protests

Protests for free university education in South Africa escalated this week, prompting at least four institutions to close temporarily just before the exam period is due to begin.

The protests follow a government proposal to raise tuition fees by up to eight per cent. With many young black South Africans, in particular, struggling financially, some feel that they are yet to see the parity and prosperity promised with the end of Apartheid.

Protesting students have reportedly vandalised property and have been involved in a number of skirmishes with security forces. Last week, police arrested around 30 students at the University of Witwatersrand after they blocked access to the university and threw stones at security guards.

The university is due to vote on temporary closure later this week. Those taking part have stressed that they will not stop until their demands are met by the government.

The Education Minister, Blade Nzimande, although sympathising with the movement, has highlighted that the government infrastructure is not currently in place to grant free education for all but has promised that the government will fund about $180 million to cover the costs for poor students.

Jonny Chard

(Image: BBC)

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