The future of thousands of students at the Central Johannesburg College in Alexandra hangs in the balance as they await their 2016 results before they can register for this year.
On Monday community members in the township took to the streets, burning tyres and debris after efforts to negotiate with the institution’s management failed last week.
But the issues plaguing the reportedly cash-strapped college run far deeper. Some students who arrived at the campus last week and on Monday morning were told their courses had been moved to the inner city in Ellis Park and Parktown, a life-changing move for most of the impoverished students who said they could not afford travel and accommodation outside of Alexandra.
Student Representative Council (SRC) chairperson for the campus Makana Masithi said that the sudden changes and the delayed results were costing the students time and money they did not have.
“This is very painful to us as students because this college was built for the community. How can they tell us to go to Ellis Park when it is already full? We don’t have money to travel there and don’t have money for accommodation.”
Community members were joined by branch members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the ANC and the National Health, Education & Allied Workers Union. It was understood that 72 lecturers’ contracts were not renewed this year due to financial constraints. Some lecturers and many students only found this out when returning to the institution last week.
The union’s branch chairman, Bongani Chauke, said that the community had had enough. “They must bring back all the courses immediately and also reinstate the people that they fired and release the results immediately so that we can start registering. Apparently their justification is financial issues.”
EFF councillor Oupa Sako said that concerned community members were told last week the school was in deep financial trouble. “There was a deficit of R80 million. They moved courses to Ellis Park to bring down the number of lecturers so they could take that money and pay back their debt. That was their strategy.”
The school’s management could not be reached at the time of going to press and the department of higher education had not yet responded to The Citizen’s questions.