NMMU says 'varied teaching and learning approaches' will start on Monday

OCTOBER 28, 2016

In its latest update to concerned parents and students, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) says it expects what it termed "varied teaching and learning approaches" to be implemented from Monday next week in order to complete the 2016 academic year.

The NMMU has been closed for over a month now owing to several incidents of violent #FeesMustFall protests that were witnessed at the institution recently. The university, however claims some learning has been happening.

"The court mandated mediation process that has been running for the last few days has not yielded the desired outcome," the NMMU said on Thursday.

A mediation process has been going on since Monday, led by members of the clergy and senior advocates as mandated by the court.

The parties to the mediation process included:

  • NMMU management,
  • Parents (CAPTU and HEPARD),
  • SRC executive committee,
  • DASO,
  • Fees Must Fall (EFF Student Command, Black Students Stokvel, SASCO, Independents).

"Notwithstanding the fact that the Fees Must Fall students were in agreement with all mediated issues, they have decided at the mass meeting today to continue with the shutdown," the NMMU said.

"As we understand it, the stated reason for continuing the shutdown is their demand for free higher education for all now.

"As such, the parties to the mediation process could not sign the proposed agreement. This leaves us with no option but to declare the mediation as having not achieved the desired outcome."

Details as to how the "varied teaching and learning approaches" will unfold will be communicated during the course of Friday, the NMMU said.

How mediation began

Despite the NMMU trying to engage students so that they can go back to class, concerned parents had formed an association to take the NMMU to court over its continued shutdown.

The Grahamstown High Court ordered that the NMMU and its various stakeholders, including CAPTU and the protesting students, had until the 13th of October to find common ground, with the aid of a professional mediator, before the courts can intervene. 

The parties failed to reach an agreement at that mediation.

However, the parents could not go back to court owing to an intedict taken out by the university.

It led to this second round of talks.

#FeesMustFallReloaded

#FeesMustFall protests broke out on the 19th of September across the country after the Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, recommended an 8% fee increment for affording students.

Previously, the NMMU stated that if students do not return to class next week, it will be forced to shut down for the 2016 academic year.

That will effectively mean that students will have to repeat the year again in 2017 – a particularly stressful prospect, especially for paying parents as well as international students.

Several efforts to resolve the impasse at the NMMU have failed.

Different groups - different agendas

Preventing the speedy resolution to the impasse at the institution is that divisions have since emerged among the protesting students.

Various student groupings, including the Student Representative Council (SRC), initially formed a coalition to collectively voice their concerns in relation to the announcement, but were divided in their approach.

However, by the 21st of September, it emerged that the SRC was no longer part of the coalition. At the end of the week, the  NMMU had actually received petitions from four different student formations in Port Elizabeth and George, and responded to each.

Below are the four memoranda received from four student formations at NMMU being the SRC, the George Campus Student Council, the student FMF coalition in PE and the FMF movement on the George Campus.

The SRC also held a public meeting at the city hall where things did not go so well.