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South African Students Win Fight Against Rising School Fees

NEW YORK, Oct 27 2015 (IPS) - (GIN) – In an official response from President Jacob Zuma to massive student protests, the proposed 10% hike in school fees has been cancelled for 2016.

It was a major victory for students after protests which began this fall caused the shutdowns of 15 universities. “We agreed that there will be a zero increase in university fees in 2016,” the President said following a meeting with student leaders.

Outside of the meeting, however, police fired stun guns and water cannons and students who tried to force their way into the premises.

The fee issue is not the only grievance felt by students who have cited racism at the previously all-white institutions, and the need for free, quality education.

On Monday, at a senate meeting of the University of the Witswatersrand in Johannesburg, students occupied the venue and cancelled the meeting.

The senate’s special meeting was supposed to deliberate on the continuing protests and to decide on the resumption of the academic program, including postponed exams and lectures.

“This university is under new management now, it is the students that are in charge … this is the struggle we will fight until we win,” said student leader Vuyani Pambo, who is also the chair of the Economic Freedom Fighters, a group led by political activist Julius Malema.

The students had earlier held their own meeting at the Senate House – which they have renamed Solomon House – to come up with a strategy for their renewed #FeesMustFall movement.

Meanwhile, another group of students demanded to be allowed to take their exams and picketed outside the Great Hall.
Lengthy meetings were held on Saturday and Sunday, with students debating how to proceed with the campaign that started at their institution two weeks ago, and spread to other campuses across South Africa.

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