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Students at the University of South Africa (Unisa) Limpopo campus being addressed by SRC Deputy Chairperson Bernard Cgina at the entrance to the main building.

Unisa students boycott classes

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Students at the University of South Africa (Unisa) Limpopo campus threaten to boycott classes until their demands are met. Students picketed outside the campus in Landdros Mare street earlier today (Monday) demanding that the university management reschedule examinations dates since study materials were not provided on time.
Students are expected to start with their exams on 2 May but their concern is that they did not receive study materials to prepare for the exams. Students Representative Council (SRC) Deputy Chairperson Bernard Cgina stated that students won’t be ready to sit for exams hence they expect the management to change the dates to June to give students enough time to prepare themselves.
He further said the university was given seven days to deliver study materials and failure to do so would force students to embark on a serious strike. “We encounter such problems every semester and that is why we decided to boycott classes for the management to attend to our grievances. Students who depend on National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) did not receive the sBux to pay for their material,” he explained. The sBux is NSFAS’s newly introduced system to pay eligible students their books, food, private accommodation and travel allowances.

Unisa students gather to air their grievances earlier today.

It is also alleged that the Wi-Fi system on the campus was not working and denied students a chance to do their research. Students also complained about the lack of space at the university but pointed out that there was a new building which does not function. Cgina said the Unisa library is somewhat useless because there are not enough text books to cater for all the students while library and computer lab times are not reasonable. He said students need enough time to research in order to complete their assignments.
“We expect our lecturers to be mobile and make time for students at various Unisa campuses. We also expect frequent communication from the university management. The text books are outdated and we need new ones to be from local authors. We will shut-down the university until our demands are met,” Cgina warned.
He added that students will start boycotting classes every time they are not happy with something at the university because the management does not listen to students’ complaints. The university management released a statement reading: “The late delivery of study materials to some of our students will have an effect on preparation for examinations, admission to examinations and sitting for examinations. Study materials are being released and dispatched but not without any challenges and to this extent, we consulted various stakeholders within the institution to consider possible options to resolve this challenge.”
The statement further read that students affected by the late delivery of study materials will be identified and granted alternative assessment opportunities, automatic admission to supplementary examinations and sitting for an examination in October or November with the option of a second examination opportunity.

Story & photos: ENDY SENYATSI
>>endy@observer.co.za